LS Polls: High-octane campaign ends as Kerala prepares for voting

LS Polls: High-octane campaign ends as Kerala prepares for voting

Thiruvananthapuram | Some candidates, in a bid to connect with voters on a personal level, climbed atop towering cranes to address the crowd of party supporters who gathered in hundreds.

Others opted for a more traditional yet equally eye-catching approach, leading massive rallies while adorned in resplendent attire.

As the curtains fell on Wednesday, marking the conclusion of the over-month-long, high-octane public campaigning for the April 26 Lok Sabha polls, Kerala bore witness to a series of extraordinary scenes and unprecedented campaign maneuvers orchestrated by candidates and party workers on the final day.

Candidates wrapped up their final outdoor campaigning by touring major centres of the constituency, meeting voters, and reassuring their votes.

The high-spirited finale of the open campaign was marked by hundreds of activists from various parties converging at particular places in each constituency, showcasing their strength by playing songs aloud, raising thunderous slogans, waving party flags, and distributing pamphlets.

In Thiruvananthapuram constituency, which witnesses a fierce three-cornered contest, the finale of the open campaigning was a total jamboree.

At the bustling Peroorkkada junction, the Congress's incumbent MP Shashi Tharoor and BJP nominee Rajeev Chandrasekhar stood atop the extended arms of two nearby cranes.

Tharoor was accompanied by Achu Oommen, daughter of the late Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, while Chandrasekhar was joined by local BJP leaders.

Both of them waved at party workers gathered, from atop the parked cranes.

LDF nominee Pannyan Raveendran led a massive rally of party activists wearing an oversize red colour crown.

In several places, the party workers could be seen carrying respective candidates on their shoulders and raising slogans.

Places like Thodupuzha, Neyyattinkara, Karunagappally and Malappuram saw minor scuffles between rival party workers over various issues, but timely interventions by police helped avert tension.

Even the final day of electioneering was marked by the presence of various national leaders in the state, including Home Minister Amit Shah, AICC Chief Mallikarjun Kharge, and Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who addressed public meetings in various constituencies.

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

With the crucial election just a day away, traditional political fronts-CPI (M)-led LDF, the Congress-headed UDF, and BJP-led NDA-exuded confidence about their victory.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, in a statement, emphasised the need for voting for the Left candidates to strengthen the secular forces of the country.

He continued to criticise both the Congress and the BJP and expressed confidence that the LDF nominees would emerge victorious during the decisive elections.

Meanwhile, leader of opposition in the assembly V D Satheesan maintained that there is a pro-UDF wave across Kerala and people would vote against the Vijayan government in the state and the Narendra Modi government at the Centre.

The BJP leadership exuded confidence that the party would not only open its account in the state during the LS polls but also win two digit seats.

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 LDF, the UDF, and the NDA.

Two union ministers and three actors are among the total candidates who try their political luck this time. BJP-led NDA is fielding the most number of women candidates-five.

Unlike 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, 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 actively reached out to voters in Kerala.

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

Chief Minister Vijayan and Opposition leader V D Satheesan travelled the length and breadth of the state and addressed a host of poll rallies and meetings for their respective candidates.

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.

Chief Electoral Officer Sanjay Kaul urged people to strictly adhere to the code of conduct.

During the last 48 hours, only silent campaigning is permissible, and any gathering of people or organizing of public meetings will be dealt with under Criminal Procedure Code Section 144, he said in a statement.

The use of loudspeakers and the organising of rallies and processions are prohibited, he added.

Over 10,000 Kerala people arrive from Gulf nations to vote in LS polls

Thiruvananthapuram | Over 10,000 Kerala people working in the Gulf nations have arrived in state over the last two weeks, some of them by chartered flights, to cast their votes in the Lok Sabha elections that will be held on April 26.

According to Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) leader Abdurhiman Randathani, the party's expatriate charity and volunteer organisation for Muslims, KMCC, worked hard to motivate the Malayalees working in Arab countries to come to Kerala and vote ever since the elections were announced.

The Kerala Muslim Cultural Centre (KMCC) has a wide network in the Arab nations, he added.

With the help of the KMCC, the expatriates negotiated with airlines for low cost fares and chartered flights to come to Kerala in large numbers, he said.

"Over 10,000 Keralites have arrived in the state in the past two weeks. More are expected to arrive on April 25," Randathani told PTI.

"However, there is nothing new about it. This happened during the last Lok Sabha polls also," he added.

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