At least three candidates, VK Sreekandan (Palakkad), MK Raghavan (Kozhikode) and Shashi Tharoor (Thiruvananthapuram) from the United Democratic Front (UDF) camp have approached the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC), complaining about the ineffectiveness of the election machinery of their own party. Though squabbles in Congress are not new, the conflicts in the party just before the parliamentary elections are leaving the workers befuddled.
The KPCC leadership, however, has intervened in these issues, and has warned the leaders that they would face consequences if the party loses. KPCC President Mullappally Ramachandran has reportedly met the district leaders of Thiruvananthapuram, Kozhikode and Palakkad last week.
VK Sreekandan who is unhappy about his election campaigns alleged that the senior leaders including Shafi Parambil, are more into Alathur constituency, leaving behind Palakkad where the BJP has a significant presence. A few reports even suggest that ‘A’ group is not happy with the candidature of Sreekandan.
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Meanwhile, the Left Democratic Front (LDF) aims for a hat-trick victory of MB Rajesh of Communist Party of India (Marxist), CPI(M). Rajesh, the sitting parliamentarian of Palakkad, is a well-known face for the voters, and his interventions inside as well as outside the Parliament have been noteworthy.
As he contests for the third time, popular perception is that Rajesh has fulfilled almost all the promises he had made in 2014. When the Centre tried to privatise the public sector undertakings (PSUs), he was one among those who strongly stood against it in the Parliament.
In 2017, when the central government had taken steps to privatise the Bharat Earth Movers Limited (BEML), which manufactures defence, mining and railway equipment, Rajesh had raised this issue in parliament. Though BEML’s headquarters are in Bengaluru, it has divisions in Mysuru, Kolar Goldfields and Palakkad. The Centre’s plan was to sell 26% of BEML which has the total assets value of Rs 56,000 crore. Later, the BEML employees had staged massive protests and finally, in January 2018, the Minister of State for Defence had deferred this move in parliament.
Read More: BEML Privatisation Deferred, Confirms Central Government
Rajesh also played an important role in the revival of Instrumentation Limited Palakkad (ILP). ILP, which plays a vital role for a very wide spectrum of industrial enterprises ranging from core sector establishments such as steel, power, cement and oil refineries to large medium and even small-scale industries, was listed to be closed down by the Centre. Rajesh, who opposed this move, played a crucial role in retaining the unit in the public sector.
Kerala’s long-pending demand for an Indian Institute of Technology [IIT] was fulfilled through Rajesh in 2015, that too in Palakkad. Again, in 2017, Rajesh had introduced a special scholarship named ‘Predict’ in his constituency for the economically backward students, and it was the first in the country of its kind. Under his scheme, students have been receiving Rs 1000 per month.
In 2009, when MB Rajesh made his debut victory, Satheesan Pacheni of Congress was the main opponent. Rajesh won the seat with a mere margin of 1,820 votes, and LDF had bagged 42.89% of the total votes polled. UDF had secured 42.66% votes, and the BJP gained 8.73% votes. While in 2014, Rajesh had won against MP Veerendra Kumar of Socialist Janata (Democratic) – a part of the UDF back then – with a margin of 1,05,300 votes. This time, LDF vote share was 45.36%. The UDF and BJP secured 33.79% and 15% respectively.
This time, BJP’s C Krishnakumar is also in the fray, eyeing the split Congress votes and their traditional votes. Besides these three, Bahujan Samaj Party’s Hari Arumbil, Social Democratic Party of India’s Thulaseedharan Pallikkal, and independent candidates C. Chandran, Balakrishnan, Rajesh Palolam, and Rajesh are contesting from Palakkad.
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