There is hardly any sign of voter lethargy in the electioneering for the major candidates in the Kannur Lok Sabha constituency. Nor any display of public enthusiasm to match the attempts of political parties to drum up excitement about the election. As the candidates travel the length and breadth of the constituency braving the scorching temperature, it is early days yet for the electorate to be drawn into the election fervour.
The campaign roadshows of Congress candidate K. Sudhakaran seeking re-election from the constituency and his Communist Party of India (Marxist) rival P.K. Sreemathy are well under way and would wrap up the first phase of the electioneering. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate P.C. Mohanan is also making his presence felt on the campaign front. The issues raised by the candidates and their party leaders here are a blend of local, State, and national issues.
Initially a little lackadaisical, the campaign for Mr. Sudhakaran is now catching up with that of Ms. Sreemathy. The stage is now set for the whirlwind tours by State and national level leaders of the United Democratic Front (UDF), Left Democratic Front (LDF) and the BJP to win votes for their candidates.
While the thrust of the UDF campaign is to highlight the “culture of political violence” practised by the CPI(M), the LDF campaign is largely focused on corruption in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government and the ‘anti-people’ policies of the Oommen Chandy government.
“Should we not retaliate the killing of T.P. Chandrasekharan and Abdul Shukkoor and Muhammad Fazal? You will get an opportunity to avenge their murders on April 10,” said Mr. Sudhakaran while addressing a campaign meeting at Nayattupara. “You can judge my performance as an MP over the last five years, but give me one more chance if you think I have done justice to your faith in me,” he said at Mattannur.
Ms. Sreemathy underscored the need for a Left alternative at the Centre. “The presence of the Left parties in Parliament is inevitable for the protection of democracy in the country,” she said while addressing a campaign meeting at Taliparamba. The LDF campaign is more disciplined and party-controlled. Her electioneering is marked by the presence of women.
The BJP’s campaigners dwell on a range of issues, including the solar scandal case and terror links, among others.
What is more audible in the electioneering is not national issues but local, regional, and State-level issues. In the Peravur constituency located in the eastern hill areas having a sizeable population of Christian settlers, it is the Kasturirangan report that is the focus LDF campaigners, while the UDF highlights the development initiatives by local MLA Sunny Joseph.
For M. Ahamed, a consultant physician here, the defining issues are corruption and price rise. “I will prefer any alternative government to a corrupt dispensation,” he says.
P. Lakshmanan, an ex-serviceman at Nayattupara, refused to disclose his political preference, while he listened to Mr. Sudhakaran referring to the political murders involving CPI(M) workers as accused. When pressed, Mr. Laskhmanan said political violence should be an equally important election issue this time.
A schoolteacher from Narath, said eventually the electoral fortunes of the candidates would be largely determined by caste equation. The campaign will enter a hectic pace in a couple of days.
Barring a few isolated incidents, electioneering in this politically volatile constituency has been a matter of great relief for the authorities.