With ruling Congress-led UDF and CPI (M)-headed opposition LDF announcing candidates for the April 10 Lok Sabha polls, Kerala has shifted to campaign mode with candidates focusing on social media in the initial phase.
Though the traditional mode of canvassing such as door-to-door campaign, public meetings and wall writings are yet to pick up, most of the candidates have begun their campaign on micro-blogging sites with postings requesting votes.
In the forefront is Union Minister Shashi Tharoor who has posted in the Facebook a detailed report of his achievements as an MP in his constituency Thiruvananthapuram.
He also posted pictures of visiting a temple and mosque and seeking the blessings of Cardinal Baselios Mar Cleemis before embarking on his campaign.
CPI (M) sitting MP P. K. Biju, who seeks a second chance from Alathur, tagged his campaign posters, party symbol and pictures of his meeting with voters in his official Facebook page.
Majority of the candidates began their campaign by visiting religious heads and worship centres irrespective of their belief. Many also visited community leaders and political veterans.
Soaring humidity has come as a hurdle for holding public meetings and door-to-door campaigns this time in view of approaching summer.
In a bid to overcome the scorching heat, certain event management groups have come out with hi-tech mobile caravans with facilities including air condition for candidates. Make-shift ‘pandals’ are also on demand this time, party sources said.
AICC Chief Sonia Gandhi and party Vice President Rahul Gandhi are scheduled to arrive in the state for a campaign, which expected to boost the prospects of UDF. National leaders of CPI (M) and the BJP are also expected in the coming days.
A confident Chief Minister Ommen Chandy has made it clear that the UDF is facing people with its various welfare measures initiated during the two-and-half-year rule.
Stressing that Lok Sabha polls would be a referendum on UDF government, he said it was a chance for people to take stock its performance.
The achievements of UPA government and the alleged “communal politics” of BJP and “politics of violence” of CPI (M) would also find place in UDF’s campaign.
The ruling front would also try to cash in on the embarrassment caused to the CPI (M) over the conviction of three party members in the sensational murder of RMP leader T. P. Chandrasekharan.
Meanwhile, Congress candidate Bindhu Krishna, contesting from Attingal near here, said she plans to focus more on developmental issues during the campaign. “Many areas in my constituency are still in a bad condition. I will approach voters with clear development plans and genuine promises,” she told PTI.
On the other hand, the LDF is all set to launch a blistering attack on the Chandy government citing soaring price of essential commodities and wrong economic policies of the UPA government. The much—talked solar scam issue would also figure as a major campaign material against the UDF government.
“LDF also plans to expose the communal agenda of BJP which projects Narenda Modi as NDA’s prime ministerial candidate,” CPI(M) leader and Rajyasabha MP T N Seema told PTI.
UPA government’s “wrong policies” and Chandy government’s “administrative stalemate” also would be the other main election themes, she said, adding, the recent “frequent” attacks against women also would be taken up.
The LDF has also latched onto the recent decision of the Centre to implement the recommendations of the Kasthuri panel report on Western Ghats to attack the UDF.
Though the Centre later issued a draft notification incorporating the concerns of the state, it continues to be a major issue of the opposition party.
The issue has become a hot topic as the settler farmers in the high range areas fear that if the recommendations are implemented, it would result in their displacement and affect their livelihood.
Kerala has 20 seats, of which 16 are with the UDF and four with the LDF in the current Lok Sabha.