Even as parts of Kannur affected by poll-related violence remained tense and on the threshold of a district-wide Bharatiya Janata Party-sponsored hartal on Monday, a bitter verbal duel erupted between leaders of the United Democratic Front (UDF) and the Left Democratic Front (LDF) on Sunday, accusing each other of having hatched a conspiracy to foment trouble in the district on polling day.

The BJP called a dawn-to-dusk hartal late Sunday evening following a bomb attack on Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh district secretary Aralam Sajeevan's car at Kelanpeedika in the Iritty police station limits, allegedly by Communist Party of India (Marxist) activists, earlier in the day.

According to reports from Kannur, the situation was quite tense in the Panur and Iritty areas and police reinforcements have been moved in to avert further trouble. Triggering the war of words at a news conference in New Delhi on Sunday, Union Minister of State for Home Mullappally Ramachandran said the CPI(M) had unleashed violence for fear of desertions from its ranks in the ‘party villages' of Kannur.

He held State Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan of involvement in the conspiracy and said that if elections were held in an absolutely free and fair manner, the CPI(M) and the LDF would not win even a single ward in the district.

Mr. Ramachandran's attack drew a sharp response from both CPI(M) State secretary Pinarayi Vijayan and Mr. Balakrishnan, who accused the Union Minister himself of having been in the know of the conspiracy hatched by his party colleague and Kannur MP K. Sudhakaran to foment violence in the district.

While Mr. Balakrishnan challenged the Union Minister to produce evidence to prove his charge, Mr. Vijayan said that if Mr. Ramachandran had prior information about the possibility of violence in the area, he should have passed it on to the State Home Minister.

That he did not do so indicated that the information in his possession was not fit to be communicated to the State government.