Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala) [India], April 5 (ANI): Three alliances, the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF), the United Democratic Front (UDF) and the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), are pitted against each other in the Assembly elections to be held in Kerala on Tuesday.
The LDF consists of CPI(M), CPI, Kerala Congress(M) and other smaller parties whereas UDF consists of the Indian National Congress, Indian Union Muslim League, Kerala Congress, Revolutionary Socialist Party and other smaller parties. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Bharath Dharma Jana Sena are the main constituents of the NDA.
As the final campaign celebration in the state, called the the Kottikalasam, was banned on the recommendation of Kerala's Chief Electoral Officer Teeka Ram Meena, the election campaigning ended colourlessly on Sunday for the 957 candidates in the fray for the elections to the 140-member Kerala Legislative Assembly.
LDF has promised to create 40 lakh new jobs for the youth and a pension for all housewives. Housing schemes, Karunya benevolent health scheme and NYAY scheme featured in the UDF manifesto. BJP promised new legislation for Sabarimala, at least one job for each family, six gas cylinders for BPL families and free laptops for high school students.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan is contesting from Kannur's Dharmadam. This is the second time he is contesting from Dharmadam. In 1996, he contested from Payyanur constituency.
Vijayan was elected to Kerala Legislative Assembly in 1970, 1977 and 1991, from Kuthuparamba constituency.
The ruling Left Democratic Front Kerala is banking on Vijayan's image for a comeback and the ranks have given him the title "captain". In Kannur's Dharmadam he is contesting against Kannur District Congress Committee (DCC) General Secretary C Raghunath, Congress candidate and CK Padmanabhan for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), former head of Party in Kerala.
In the first instance of a BJP leader contesting from two constituencies in Kerala, BJP state president K Surendran is contesting from two assembly constituencies -- Manjeshwar, where he lost by just 89 votes in 2016 and Konni, where he has pinned his hopes as the Sabarimala protest took its fiercest form here.
Surendran was the face of BJP during the Sabarimala protest and he said that he chose Konni because of the emotional bond due to his experiences during the Sabarimala protest.
Chennithala, the leader of opposition in Kerala is contesting from Haripad where he is facing LDF's R Sajilal (CPI) and former BJP district president K Soman while former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, a 11-time winner from the Puthuppally constituency will face polls from the same Puthapally where he is pitted against LDF's Jaick C Thomas and BJP's N Hari.
Nemom, a suburb in Kerala's capital Thiruvananthapuram is becoming a focal point of the state assembly polls, with all three fronts betting huge for a victory on the lone seat that BJP managed to win in 2016 assembly polls.
Another high profile constituency in the state is the Palakkad Assembly constituency where BJP has fielded metro man, E Sreedharan, a recent entrant into the party.
Sreedharan was the man behind the Delhi Metro, Konkan railway and many of the country's ambitious infrastructure projects. Though a new face in Kerala politics, his name immediately started doing rounds as BJP's CM face for Kerala but the top party leaders dismissed the rumours as unfounded as they said that no official decision has been taken in this regard.
Sreedharan has been fielded against the sitting MLA Shafi Parambil, who is contesting as the Congress candidate, and CPI-M has given the ticket to CP Pramod.
As Sabarimala women's entry issue is back on fore in assembly polls, BJP fielded its National Executive Member Sobha Surendran to wrest the seat from CPI(M), as Kadakampally Surendran her opponent, was the Devasom Minister in charge of Sabarimala, when the Sabrimala protests happened in 2018.
Former Mizoram Governor and BJP candidate from Nemom, Kummanam Rajasekharan is facing a tri-cornered fight against K Muraleedharan of Congress and V Sivankutty of CPI(M).
Other key candidates are Minister of Health KK Shailaja contesting from Mattanur, Former CM Oommen Chandy contesting from Puthuppally, Minister for Water Resources K Krishnankutty from Chittur, Revenue Minister E Chandrasekharan from Kanhangad.
Many of the LDF heavyweights who are ministers of state are not contesting the polls this year. UDF has recalled two of its MPs to contest the state elections and the Bharatiya Janata party inducted many new bureaucrats and technocrats ahead of the elections, some of whom are in the fray.
On March 19, which was the last date for submission of applications, 2,180 applications were received all over Kerala by Election Commission. After scrutiny, it dropped to 1,061.
As many as 957 candidates are contesting in the Assembly elections after the last date for withdrawal of nomination papers.
Chief Electoral Officer Tikaram Meena said the final voter list for the Assembly elections had 2,74,46,039 voters.
There are 1,32,83,724 male voters, 1,41,62,025 female voters and 290 transgender voters in 140 constituencies. These include 87,318 expatriate men, 6,086 women and 11 transgender people.
Counting of votes will be held on May 2. (ANI)