KERALA

Good voting percentage keeps UDF confident

Special Correspondent

Thiruvananthapuram : The United Democratic Front (UDF) camp appears to be confident that its candidate V.S. Sivakumar will come up trumps in the Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha byelection. The UDF camp derives its confidence from the voting percentage that has been above the expectations of its campaign managers.

According to KPCC general secretary M.K. Raghavan, who was in charge of Neyyatinkara, the Congress party should lead in most of the Assembly constituencies mainly on account of its organised electioneering that has brought many to the polling booths. UDF election managers feel that it would win mainly because there was resentment, the kind that was witnessed in 2004, particularly among the minority communities. While the election outcome would prove to be a neck and neck affair in the rural constituencies of Neyyatinkara, Nemom, Parassala and Kovalam, the winning margins would have to come from the three urban Assembly constituencies of Thiruvananthapuram North, East and West.

The polling percentage in these three constituencies, according to available figures, is low compared to the other Assembly segments and the results would depend much on the preferences of the electorate here. In the last Lok Sabha elections, Mr. Rajagopal polled heavily in the city constituencies and Mr. Siva Kumar's victory will depend much on whether he has been able to win back the votes he lost primarily to the BJP in 2004. UDF managers feel that they have been able to reach across through to this segment. They owe a lot to the Nair Service Society (NSS), which came out openly in favour of the UDF, they said. The Christian denominations spread over the Lok Sabha seat would also prefer the UDF, because of the pre-election interventions made by quite a few people, political and apolitical, they point out.

KPCC president Ramesh Chennithala in a statement here thanked all the voters in the constituency who cast their votes in favour of Mr. Sivakumar. In another statement, UDF election committee convener

Thampanoor Ravi said he was confident that Mr. Sivakumar would win with a huge majority and lead in all the Assembly segments. He said that the electorate had thwarted all attempts of the LDF to upset the electoral process by running a slanderous campaign against the UDF candidate, besides stoking communal passions.