- In Aluva, the contest is between LDF\'s Salim and UDF\'s Anwar Sadath, the sitting MLA
- Salim is confident of an LDF victory even though Sadath is said to have done work
More in the story
- What are the BJP\'s chances?
- Is Kerala heading for an LDF sweep?
The Aluva constituency is broadly the area skirting the Cochin International Airport. The CPI(M) candidate Salim, a lawyer, is out early on his rounds meeting people in their homes in what is known as the railway colony. The railway line passes right in front of the area and only the occasional hoots of the passing express train to and from nearby Ernakulam, disturbs the otherwise tranquil nature of the place.
Salim walks into each house like a friend and calls out to whoever is there. Women rush out from the confines of the kitchen and Salim talks to them with confidence. He believes that the entire area belongs to the CPI(M). He is up against the sitting MLA Anwar Sadath of the Congress who, some people say, has done good work in the constituency. There are various boards in and around Aluva announcing projects sanctioned by Sadath with his MLA fund.
But Salim brushes aside Sadath's challenge:"Nothing much has been done here," he tells this reporter. "There is an all round feel for change and the LDF is going to come to power this time."
"Hello, I don't have to introduce myself. You all know me," Salim tells the lady of the house who has rushed outside to the portico. They all greet him with a smile. Salim waves his towel while greeting to some of them. Most houses of the lower classes in Kerala are identified with a picture of the respective gods but Salim cuts through all that with the attitude of a friend. To those who talk about lack of water and power cuts, he offers solace and promise.
Aluva, like rest of central Kerala, is a meeting point of religious and social streams. Aluva has a substantial Muslim population of more than 20%, which explains the two Muslim candidates.
Christians are an extremely influential and the area has some of the most fabulous churches, summoning Kerala's connection with ancient Christianity. In the nearby constituency of Angamaly, the fight is between two Christian candidates, Roji John of the Congress up against Benny Moonjelly of the CPI(M). In a narrow gulley, on the evening of 1 May, a Sunday, a small crowd has gathered outside the recently rebuilt Pherona church, with a big ancient cross more than a hundred years old set in the middle of the narrow street.
Beautiful temples too adorn the area signifying the emergence of these three major religions in a small part of the world. Now they are fighting for political supremacy, each community trying to outwit the others voting this way and that.
This time, the otherwise two-cornered Kerala electoral scene is facing the serious assault by the BJP, which is trying to gain a foot hold. BJP president Amit Shah is campaigning in Kerala for almost two weeks from now, showing how desperately the BJP wants to make its presence felt here. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to address meetings throughout the state. The BJP's idea is to wean away the influential backward caste community the Ezhavas, out of the fold of the CPI(M), which they have traditionally supported.
This combined with higher caste Nair support is what the BJP hopes will help it play the spoilsport in many constituencies where the margins are less than 5000 votes. BJP is contesting 133 constituencies in a state where they have never won. Party insiders told this reporter that they are expecting to win 2 seats in Thiruvananthapuram district. CPI(M)'s Salim tells me that the best case scenario for the BJP is second place in two seats.
Vellappally Natesan, the leader of the newly formed Ezhava political party BDJS aligned with the BJP, in an article in Kerala Kaumudi, says that Kerala has always had the tragedy of voting back one of the two fronts. "This time a new hope presents itself in the form of the BJP led alliance," he writes.
Thomas, a qualified welder who is a CPI(M) member in Aluva, says that there has always been a media conspiracy against the Marxist party and the LDF which is now all set to sweep back to power.
"Last time we lost by a whisker of two seats. This time it will not happen. We are looking at 100 seats because of the anti-UDF sentiment. People want a change," he says.
Sunil a local committee member of the CPI(M) and in-charge of Salim's campaign in railway colony, is confident that the mood is with the CPI(M). With the brush of his hand he dismisses the BJP threat. "The LDF's battle is with the Congress-led UDF and this time the LDF has everything going for it," he says.
Edited by Aditya Menon
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