S. Anil Radhakrishnan

Thiruvananthapuram: As the announcement car moves ahead along the narrow road of Maria Nagar, located on the side of Mannanthala-Peroorkada Road, announcing the arrival of the candidate, the young and old emerge from the houses and assemble near the doorsteps and gates to greet UDF candidate and District Congress president K. Mohan Kumar.

Standing in the open jeep bearing his election symbol and `Architect of Development in Thiruvananthapuram North' written in bold letters, Mr. Mohankumar greets the people as the vehicle moves slowly along the narrow road up the gradient. The vehicle after reaching the dead end of the road returns and stops where a reception has been arranged by UDF workers.

It is 11.15 a.m., and a small group comprising men and women had gathered on the roadside ignoring the sweltering heat to greet Mr. Mohankumar, who was instrumental in setting up the civil station at Kudapanakunnu. He steps down to accept Khadi shawls and towels offered by his supporters and later climb atop the vehicle to address them.

"I have been able to take up many development projects for the constituency during the last five years. There is no need to tell you about what has happened in Bulgaria or Thrissur," Mr. Mohankumar said while seeking a vote on behalf of the UDF for completing the unfinished development projects in Thiruvananthapuram North.

The UDF candidate narrates to them the initiative taken to solve the drinking water problem in the locality and how he was able to rope in the suburban localities in Kudapanakunnu and Vattiyoorkavu under the Capital City Region Development Programme by taking up the issue with the then Chief Minister A.K. Antony.

"You are lucky as Kudapanakunnu is going to be literally the capital of the district. Every Minister had promised something during the inauguration scheduled in March. This included a big auditorium, buses to all parts of the district and an Assistant Commissioner of Police office at Peroorkada. It was also decided to hold the Cabinet at the civil station on the day of inauguration, but before that elections were announced," he said.

Mr. Mohankumar winds up the brief address by appealing to the voters to give him a second term.

At the next stopover at Iruppukuzhi junction, a big crowd is present to greet Mr. Mohankumar and to listen to him. After accepting the Khadi garlands and towels, he moves around.

Addressing the crowd from the bus stop, Mr. Mohankumar reminded them of the steps he had taken to solve the drinking water crisis by constructing an overhead water tank and other development works taken up during the last five years. "The people will not have to run from one place to another. The people from 78 panchayats, four municipalities and one City Corporation will have to come here. All can take pride in this," he said.

The UDF candidate lists out the steps taken by the UDF Government to end the misery of the people and winds up the address by appealing to exercise the franchise in favour of the UDF as a thanks giving to the development initiatives.

It is 11.50 a.m. and Mr. Mohankumar steps into the open jeep to continue the campaign tour.

LDF candidate and CPI(M) district secretary M. Vijayakumar, who is trying to wrest the constituency from Mr. Mohankumar, completed his four-day campaign tour at Karikkakom on Tuesday night. On Wednesday, Mr. Vijayakumar preferred to meet the voters individually at Tirumala, Nalanchira and other localities. The LDF also organised two regional rallies at Ulloor and Vattiyoorkavu as part of the campaign.

"The trend is in favour of the LDF and the mood of the electorate is same as witnessed during the Lok Sabha bypoll last year. Development issues were the poll plank in the campaign," the convener of LDF's Thiruvananthapuram North election committee Peroorkada Sreekumar said.

BJP candidate Jayalekshmi, who is trying to make her presence felt in the constituency, toured Karikkakom, Pongumoodu, Ulloor and Cheruvakkal on Wednesday before winding up the three-day campaign at Sreekariyam. "The response from the women electorate is encouraging and the people are for a change," she said.