The Congress manifestoes are increasingly better thought out. This time too the manifesto stood out due to the promise of ‘Zero Bill’ hospitals, gender equality and direct connectivity to business hubs. Campaigns by Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, both attacking the Left and the LDF government, and their road shows also seemed to have infused energy into the UDF campaign.
Some voters seem revolted at the LDF taking a communal line and attacking Muslims and Christians. Loose remarks by a former Left MP taking a swipe at Rahul Gandhi’s visit to a women’s college also came in for flak on social media. In God’s own country, in liberated and progressive Kerala, such behaviour was found unacceptable from the Left.
In Northern Kerala, Kasargode and Kannur have 16 Assembly seats, of which 10 have been Left strongholds for years. Of the seven seats in Wayanad, UDF expects to wrest a few of them back from the LDF. Out of the 29 Assembly constituencies in Kozhikode and Malappuram, 20 appear to support the UDF.
In Central Kerala (Palakkad, Thrissur, Eranakulam, Idukki) and South Kerala (Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Alappuzha, Pathanamthitta, Kottayam) districts, the picture remains hazy. With the entry of BJP’s E Sreedharan in Palakkad, Brahmin voters seem to be in favour of the BJP. In Thrissur with 13 Assembly seats, the UDF’s poll promise of paying Rs 2,000 to home makers between the age of 40 and 60 seemed to be popular talking points among poorer women.
Ernakulam and Idukki are where UDF is hoping to gain the most to make up for losses in north Kerala. But with Kerala Congress (Mani) faction having switched its loyalties from UDF to LDF last year, poll dynamics are different and uncertain. LDF had gained in the panchayat polls but nobody is certain how this will play out in the assembly.
KC(M) chairperson Jose Mani’s attempts to turn Christians and Muslims against each other have put off both Catholic Bishops and voters. Recent clashes between KC(M) and CPI(M) workers too have not gone unnoticed.
Along the coastal belt, in Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam and Alappuzha districts, the consensus appears to be emerging in favour of the UDF after the deep-sea fishing contract controversy. In the mainland however the UDF is finding it tough.
It is a waveless election with neither side enjoying a significant edge. The polling day might provide more clues.
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