LDF wants to block Kollam sitting MP’s chances in elections

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Breaking bread is a tradition as old as the art of diplomacy, but it hardly occurred to Kollam MP NK Premachandran that sharing a meal with the Prime Minister could become a high-stakes game of political manipulation.

The meal was instead given manna to the rival Left Democratic Front (LDF) which has never forgiven a two-time MP from the traditionally left-leaning Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) to join the Congress-led UDF after being denied a seat. 2014 Lok Sabha elections, after which he has won twice.

Raising hackles of LDF

The LDF has tried to woo MPs to the BJP ever since the inauguration of the long-delayed Kollam bypass ahead of the 2019 elections when his office managed to grace the Prime Minister – something the LDF, against its own will, bargained for more than the ruling front in Kerala.

The MP recently raised his hackles further by praising the PM’s office for ‘effective monitoring of progress of projects’ in his constituency. Joining the inauguration ceremony online, he said he was ‘confident that the work will be completed without any hiccups.’

Confidence in voters

The LDF is using every medium in its bag of tricks to sabotage its elections, he says. It also prevailed on the CITU to take out a protest march with a black banner showing their name in white. But he believes in the faith of the voters, and has tried to counter the narrative by personally reaching out to them in large numbers. “I’ve probably met and shaken hands with at least 1.5 lakh of them by now,” he says.

Premachandran M Mukesh, sitting LDF MLA from Kollam Assembly segment and BJP’s Krishnakumar G, both veteran cine actors. The incumbent MP calls himself a mainstream politician while his rivals are part-timers. Krishnakumar is a late entry into the scene with his candidacy announced on March 24 itself.

Pronounced indifference

The most striking feature to emerge from the constituency tour is the palpable voter apathy towards the elections, which are a fortnight away. “None of the candidates have come here to campaign. We expect them to do just that as polling day approaches. The daytime temperatures are currently unbearable. After all, they are human beings,” said Anil Kumar, a shop owner in Kulthupuzza in inner Kollam.

Roads and junctions wore a largely deserted look in the plantation belt of Punalur, Kulathupuzza, Anchal and Chadayamangalam as well as in rural Chatnoor, Mayyanad, Eravipuram, Chawara and Kundara with significant minority populations.

Minority concerns

A group of autorickshaw drivers seeking shade from the blazing afternoon sun in Anchal rejected the election. “It doesn’t matter to us. We will vote according to personal political preferences,” said Ratesh and Arjun from what is known as the CPI belt. They admire Premachandran, but will think twice before voting because some of his most pressing demands have been long overdue.

The Muslim community in Chadayamangalam, Kundara, Mayyanad and Eravipuram is upset over the CAA. “To say that Kerala is not affected is a misrepresentation of fact. We share the concerns of our brothers wherever they are. This will definitely find expression in the way we vote this time,” says PR professional Adil Mohammad.

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