Intense campaigning for Lok Sabha polls nears conclusion in Kerala ahead of voting on April 26

Congress candidate Shashi Tharoor during an election campaign for the Lok Sabha polls, in Thiruvananthapuram, Tuesday, April 23, 2024.
Congress candidate Shashi Tharoor during an election campaign for the Lok Sabha polls, in Thiruvananthapuram, Tuesday, April 23, 2024.

Thiruvananthapuram | With just two days left for the second phase of the Lok Sabha polls, in which the 20 constituencies of Kerala will vote, the fiercely competitive campaigns put up by political parties for over a month are set to draw to a close on Wednesday.

A total of 194 candidates are vying for the 20 seats in the state, making the April 26 Lok Sabha polls a crucial battleground for the CPI (M)-led ruling LDF, the Congress-headed UDF and the BJP-led NDA.

The scorching summer heat did nothing to curb the vigour of the campaigns progressing across the state, which will reach their climax with massive road shows and rallies by candidates and the top leaders of their respective parties on Wednesday evening.

The final day of poll campaigning in Kerala has generally been a grand affair. As it reaches fever pitch, every political party strives to demonstrate its strength by bringing in maximum participation of workers and supporters to the final events of public campaigning.

On Thursday, there will be a silent campaign before the state votes on Friday, April 26.

Unlike in the previous general elections, the state of Kerala has experienced a highly active and aggressive campaign.

Diverse issues ranging from the implementation of the CAA, the alleged existence of 'love jihad', controversies surrounding 'The Kerala Story' movie, the Manipur violence, Rahul Gandhi's candidature in Wayanad, and BJP's declaration that it would change the name of Sultan Bathery to Ganapathy Vattom, as well as alleged appeasement of minorities by various political parties, dominated the high-decibel public campaigns.

National-level leaders from various political parties, such as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party chief J P Nadda from the BJP, Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi and P Chidambaram, as well as CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, have actively reached out to voters in Kerala.

PM Modi's multiple visits to the state to address election rallies outlined the BJP's hope and focus in Kerala, where they are yet to make inroads at the grassroots level and win a seat in the general elections.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Leader of the Opposition in the State Assembly V D Satheesan travelled through the length and breadth of the state and addressed a host of poll rallies and meetings for their respective candidates.

During his vigorous campaigning in the state, Modi emphasised the development and welfare projects initiated by the Centre, along with his commitments to further engage with the people.

He also directed criticism towards the Congress party, particularly regarding Rahul Gandhi's decision to contest from the Wayanad constituency in the state instead of his once traditional stronghold in Uttar Pradesh.

While addressing rallies, Gandhi, on the other hand, lambasted the BJP-led union government at the Centre, accusing them of attempting to implement the RSS agenda in the country.

Chief Minister Vijayan, however, sought to bring the implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Act to the forefront of his campaigning.

Alleging that the BJP government aimed at transforming India into a religious nation through the CAA, Vijayan also criticised the Congress and Rahul Gandhi for their alleged silence on the matter.

Throughout the campaigns Vijayan continuously criticised Gandhi, who in turn indulged in a tit-for-tat.

The campaign was marred by allegations of cyber attacks and apprehensions about bogus voting in the Vatakara Lok Sabha seat, where two current MLAs — K K Shailaja of the CPI(M)-led LDF and Shafi Parambil of the Congress-led UDF — are fighting to win in the polls.

While the CPI(M) alleges that the UDF has launched a vicious cyber attack against Shailaja, who was the former health minister of the state, the Congress moved the Kerala High Court seeking action to prevent bogus voting in Vatakara in the Lok Sabha elections.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the UDF won 19 of the 20 seats, while the LDF had to settle for just a single seat.

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