Kerala Assembly elections 2021: Constituency Watch

Kerala Assembly Elections | From IT infra to protection of faith, Kazhakuttam covers all

(clockwise from top left) Kadakampally Surendran (LDF), S.S. Lal (UDF, and Sobha Surendran (BJP) campaigning in Kazhakuttam.  

The red Willys Jeep, bristling with party flags, pulls to a stop at a small turning near Ulloor Junction. Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran dips his head from the open vehicle to accept garlands fashioned out of red ribbons as CPI(M) workers crowd around him.

A brief speech later, the jeep, leading a mini-convoy, moves on to the next reception. The Left Democratic Front candidate being the Devaswom Minister, Kazhakuttam is a segment where the re-emergence of the Sabarimala controversy ahead of the Assembly polls may prove to be an irritant to the LDF, but he appears unfazed. Mr. Surendran, who defeated V. Muraleedharan of the BJP by 7,347 votes in 2016 to win the seat for the LDF, instead chooses to focus on development.

“I am confident of victory. Public opinion has consolidated overwhelmingly in favour of the LDF between 2016 and 2021. Developmental activities to the tune of ₹2,200 crore are in various stages of progress. Further development of Technopark and Technocity is on the cards. Kazhakuttam has already achieved the status of an important constituency here. It will be taken forward,” he says.

‘No outsider’

S.S. Lal, the United Democratic Front candidate, met voters at the Karikkakom Devi temple on Friday morning. Later, he toured parts of the segment. Dr. Lal believes his credentials as a professional and a public health expert have appreciable heft in a constituency that is home to one of India’s biggest IT hubs. Attempts to portray him as an outsider have more or less backfired, he says.

Kerala Assembly Elections | From IT infra to protection of faith, Kazhakuttam covers all
 

“I completed part of my education in this constituency and have many personal connections,” he says. Kazhakuttam can be developed as a global hub of education, health care, sports and tourism, but the segment has been experiencing development stagnation.

BJP’s Sobha Surendran spent Friday morning touring the Njandoorkonam, Powdikonam and Chempazhanthy wards. Though she arrived late on the scene, Ms. Surendran has made significant headway in her campaign, assert local BJP leaders. ‘Protection of faith’ is an overarching theme in the poll speeches of the BJP State vice president, a vocal critic of the LDF government’s handling of the Sabarimala issue. She has gone on record stating that it is her destiny to join battle with the Devaswom Minister.

Nonetheless, as her campaign vehicle wends its way down narrow country lanes on Friday, Ms. Surendran does not ignore the development card.

SS Lal campaign trail _Kazhakuttam

SS Lal campaign trail _Kazhakuttam   | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

 

“It took 50 years for a bypass to materialise here. How many jobs did the LDF MLA create for the youth in the past five years?” The segment needs attention on everyday issues such as housing and water supply, she adds.

Ms. Surendran is also quick to parry rivals’ accusation of her being a stranger to Kazhakuttam. “E.K. Nayanar and V.S. Achuthanandan too have contested from other seats. Where you are from is not the important thing, but what you can do,” she says.


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Printable version | Sep 24, 2021 3:49:14 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/kerala-assembly/from-it-infra-to-protection-of-faith-this-segment-covers-all/article34180066.ece

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