All fronts run a wave of confidence in State’s gateway

Leading parties talking about development of the region cutting across borders of constituencies

Palakkad district with 12 constituencies is witnessing one of the hottest electoral contests in recent times.

When the CPI(M) is struggling to safeguard its fortresses such as Shoranur, Ottappalam, Malampuzha, Tarur, Nemmara and Alathur, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is trying to trump this election by presenting technocrat E. Sreedharan in Palakkad.

The United Democratic Front (UDF) is also putting up a brave front in a desperate move not only to retain three of its young and energetic MLAs in Palakakd, Thrithala and Mannarkkad, but also to grab one or two additional seats from the Left Democratic Front (LDF).

Tough fights are taking place in Palakkad, Thrithala, Pattambi, Kongad, Mannarkkad, Malampuzha, Chittur and Nemmara.

All players are talking about development of the region cutting across borders of constituencies. When the LDF is harping on the Pinarayi Vijayan government’s welfare programmes, the BJP is keen on praising the Central government led by Narendra Modi for its definitive actions and people-friendly projects. The UDF has no choice but to catcall both governments and their actions.

In several constituencies, especially the district’s eastern regions of Chittur and Malampuzha containing Palakkad’s famous rain-shadow areas, water scarcity continues to be the key issue. No candidate in these regions can shy away from addressing water-related issues.

Minister for Water Resources K. Krishnankutty, the Janata Dal veteran who is seeking a fifth term from Chittur, is pinpointing the government initiatives done in the last five years to address the region’s water scarcity.

Mr. Sreedharan brought out a seven-point development master plan for Palakkad touching upon drinking water, tourism, sports, education, culture, industry and health. Although it looked cursory and sketchy, the master plan won Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s approbation and assurance of support during his rally in Palakkad on Tuesday.

BJP candidates E. Sreedharan and C. Krishnakumar are giving a tough fight in Palakkad and Malampuzha, where the BJP had stood second in 2016. It is neck and neck in Palakkad for Mr. Sreedharan and UDF incumbent Shafi Parambil.

Although caste and community factors are deeply entrenched in Palakkad’s electoral mind, the key players have been careful not to touch upon them in their open campaign. Yet they expect those factors to reflect in the polling.

The LDF is currently holding nine of the 12 seats in Palakkad.

Although the front is confident of retaining their seats and throwing a solid challenge in UDF constituencies such as Thrithala and Mannarkkad, what remains to be seen is how much the BJP will continue to chip away at the LDF-UDF vote banks.

The BJP’s growth trajectory in recent years in several constituencies, including Palakkad, Malampuzha and Shoranur, has been worth taking note of. Both the LDF and the UDF may not admit it; but it is gaining strength to give them both jitters.

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