Political parties go all out on last day of campaigning

April 14th, 2009 - 6:40 pm ICT by IANS  

Thiruvananthapuram, April 14 (IANS) Processions, colourful rallies, visits to temples by candidates and hectic door-to-door campaigning marked the last day of electioneering in Kerala that goes to the Lok Sabha polls on Thursday.
All the political parties and candidates put up their best ever performance as the campaigning ended Tuesday evening.

Supporters of political parties came out in large numbers to join processions and election meetings.

Kerala goes to the polls Thursday for 20 Lok Sabha seats for which 217 candidates are in the fray.

The main fight is between traditional rivals - the opposition Congress-led United Democratic Front ( UDF) and the ruling Communist Party of India Marxist (CPI-M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF).

In the 2004 polls, the LDF had won 19 seats.

The state has 21,865,324 voters, of whom 11,337,483 are women.

Several Hindu candidates went to temples Tuesday to offer prayers on the occasion of Vishu, the astronomical New Year day of the state.

Candidates were also trying to reach out individually to as many people as possible, travelling from one rally to another before the end of campaigning at 5 p.m.

The UDF put up its best campaign icon, Defence Minister A.K. Antony. The senior Congress leader held a road show in the interior parts of the capital district where the Congress has fielded former UN undersecretary general Shashi Tharoor for the Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha seat.

Antony lashed out at the CPI-M on the basis of the findings of the chief electoral officer who has identified close to 2,000 polling booths as sensitive, with a majority located in Kannur district.

“Many of these sensitive booths are in the home territory of CPI-M state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan and Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan. This is something serious to ponder over,” Antony said, addressing an election meeting.

On his part, Vijayan told reporters at Kannur that the LDF would sweep the polls.

“Last time the UDF won just one seat in Malappuram. This time we will get that too,” said Vijayan.

However, denting the hopes of the LDF was Janata Dal-Secular state president M.P. Veerendra Kumar, sitting MP from Kozhikode, whose party was denied the seat which led to the JD-U withdrawing from the LDF.

Speaking at a rally, Kumar declared that after the polls the LDF would be “dead”.

“The LDF should get ready 20 ambulances because they are going to lose every seat and many will have to be taken to the hospital,” said Kumar speaking in Malappuram.

The bad news for the LDF continued with spokesperson of the Kerala Catholic Bishops Conference Fr Stephen Alathara coming out against the LDF.

“Ever since the present government came to power three years back, their policies have been against the minority Christian community, be it with regard to their stand on the education sector or the harsh words they said about our leaders. Our faithful are aware of these factors,” Alathara told reporters in Kochi.

About 23 percent of Kerala’s total population of 2.16 crore are Christians.

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