High-pitch campaign for Kerala bypolls ends, voting on Monday

High-pitch campaign for Kerala bypoll ends
The nearly-one month campaign witnessed heated arguments on a number of issues ranging corruption charges, condition of roads and caste equations.
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Thiruvananthapuram: The high-pitch campaign for bypoll to five Assembly constituencies in Kerala came to an end on Saturday evening, with all three political fronts remaining optimistic about the results.

Vatiyoorkavu, Aroor, Konni, Ernakulam and Manjeswaram constituencies will vote on Monday for what is touted as a mini assembly election.

The nearly-one month campaign witnessed heated arguments on a number of issues ranging corruption charges, condition of roads and caste equations. The electioneering also had its moments of personal attacks on candidates, especially in Aroor where Shanimol Usman, the only prominent woman candidate, is in the fray.

Barring Aroor, the other four seats are held by the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) at present.

The bypoll to Manjeswaram constituency was necessitated by the death of UDF legislator P B Abdul Razack while the four other constituencies were vacated after their legislators won the Lok Sabha polls.

The CPM is hoping to retain Aroor and make giant strides in Vatiyoorkavu and Konni.

CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan told the media on Saturday that his party was confident that what happened in Pala Assembly seat last month will happen in all the five constituencies. The Left wrested the Pala seat from the UDF after 54 years with NCP's Mani C Kappen emerging victorious.

"The Left government has proved it has accomplished most of its promises and seeing this the UDF is jittery and has started playing the communal card. Helping them in this is the Nair Service Society (the socio-cultural body of the Hindu Nair community). The NSS members are attached to various political parties, but its general secretary Sukumaran Nair is behaving like a UDF worker," Kodiyeri said.

State Congress President Mullapally Ramachandran said he was confident his party was going to win all the five seats.

"Pala was an aberration and it happens at times. But this time we are supremely confident of the outcome and like the Lok Sabha polls when we won 19 out of 20 seats, this time we will win all the five Assembly seats," Mullappally said.

Senior Indian Union Muslim League leader P K Kunhalikutty, who is overseeing his party candidate M C Kamarudheen's election campaign in Manjeswaram, said that they will win by a margin of over 10,000 votes.

"The fight is with the BJP candidate, as the Left has finished in third place in all recent elections," said Kunhalikutty.

Konni is witnessing a triangular contest between Congress' P Mohanraj, CPM's K U Jenish BJP candidate K Surendran.

"Factors are very favourable for me and it looks much better than when I contested the Pathanamthitta Lok Sabha seat. This time we are getting support from certain sections, who were not with us during the Lok Sabha polls and hence things are quite ominous," said Surendran.

In Vatiyoorkavu, the BJP had pinned its hopes on former Mizoram Governor Kummanem Rajaesekheran, but after the party failed to get his name cleared to contest the seat, it has fielded S Suresh from the constituency.

"We have made giant strides in the campaign and nothing has been left to chance. I have covered every area in the constituency and the response seems to be favouring me," said S Suresh.

The CPM has fielded local leader Manu C Pulickal against Congress candidate Shanimol Usman from Aroor.

"This time Usman is going to win and you wait and see, she will win with a sound majority. She is no stranger to the voters here as she has always been with them," said Congress strongman and Kannur Lok Sabha MP K Sudhakaran, who was busy participating in road shows with Usman on the last day of the campaign.

In Congress stronghold Ernakulam, party candidate T J Vinod is sitting pretty as he is also the deputy mayor of Cochin Corporation, while the CPM is leading the campaign of young laywer and Left backed independent candidate Manu Roy.

On Monday, some 9,57,509 voters, including 4,91,455 women, 4,66,047 men and seven transgenders, will decide the fate of 35 candidates by casting their votes at 846 polling stations.

(With inputs from IANS)

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