Thiruvananthapuram: Political parties, their workers and candidates largely ignored the Election Commission order banning the grand finale for the public campaigning in view of the Covid situation, and staged boisterous road shows that people are used to seeing at the closure of open campaign.
Perhaps the biggest show was in the Dharmadom constituency of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, where the road show started at 2.30 pm and continued till 7pm, the scheduled closure time. The road show covered the entire constituency and concluded at the chief minister’s native place of Pinarayi.
Rahul Gandhi’s road show in favour of Congress candidate K Muraleedharan, the son of the late chief minister K Karunakaran, added to the excitement as the Congress leader described Kerala as an idea and not merely a state of the Indian Union. He said the Congress candidate represented that idea.
Earlier in interview to a news channel, Rahul claimed that the central agencies investigating various scams in the state were secretly helping the chief minister and pointed out that they have a selective approach in this regard.
For instance, he described the approach of the central agencies in Tamil Nadu as ‘brutal’ as the houses and offices of DMK leaders and their relatives are being raided on a daily basis.
Rahul’s claim of the central agencies going soft on Pinarayi Vijayan has to be seen in the context of the new controversy over the power deal with the Adanis, who according to the UDF leaders are acting as the bridge between Pinarayi and Modi.
The controversy continued to rage as opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala claimed new deals between the state government and the Adanis, allegedly signed at the instance of the chief minister.
The campaign heat being generated over the issue has led observers to wonder whether this was the bomb that the chief minister has been warning about ahead of the polling day.
Reports from various constituencies suggested that the fight is much more tight than what has been suggested in pre-poll surveys, which the opposition believes have been paid for by the government. Many constituencies are witnessing fierce three-cornered contests, which has made the outcome anybody’s guess.
The campaign climax has animated the opposition camps as they feel that a UDF victory is a foregone conclusion, while the ruling front continues to be upbeat about their prospects, although a controversy about Pinarayi being described as Kerala’s captain has led to an unwelcome discussion within the party and outside as personality cult is frowned upon by the party as a matter of principle.
The chief minister has vowed to close the BJP’s account this time, implying that the saffron party will lose its sitting seat in Nemam, where former governor Kummanam Rajasekharan is the NDA candidate.
The BJP, on the other hand, claims that this elections will throw up a lot of surprises and that the main fight is between CPI-M and BJP.
At one stage of the campaigning, state BJP chief K Surendran had even made the outrageous claim that if the party managed to win 35 seats, it would form the government and predicted dramatic developments after the announcement of results on May 2.