Campaign reaches feverish pitch in Pala

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As bypoll day draws near, Kerala Congress (M) factions close ranks

With just six more days for Pala to elect its first legislator after K.M. Mani, the rival factions in the Kerala Congress (M) have finally put their egos and bruised feelings aside so as to keep its record here intact.

Signalling a thaw in the bitter feud within the KC(M), Jose Tom Pulikkunnel (nominee of the Jose K. Mani faction), who is contesting for the United Democratic Front (UDF), on Tuesday visited P.J. Joseph at his residence in Thodupuzha.

During the visit, which lasted about 10 minutes, Mr. Pulikkunnel sought the party working chairman’s support to ensure his victory in the byelection.

Congress intervention

Though an intervention by the Congress-led coalition a week ago had brought down the intensity of the raging factionalism in the KC(M), the absence of Mr. Pulikkunnel at a UDF meeting held at Oshana Mount on September 14 proved to be a damper for the front.

“The UDF is leaving no stone unturned to extend its winning streak as Pala heads to one of the closest battles ever witnessed in its history,” said a senior KC(M) leader.

According to him, the KC(M) has higher stakes than any other political outfits in the byelection as it has never lost an election in the Assembly segment since its formation in 1965. The feud aside, the party very well understands the significance of ensuring the veteran leader’s support, he added.

With just three days left for the electioneering to end, the campaign has reached a feverish pitch with top leaders of all the three coalitions descending on Pala to muster support for their candidate.

While Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijjayan will lead the Left Democratic Front’s campaign for Mani C. Kappan in the last three days, the Bharatiya Janata Party has brought in its poll strategist Sunil Deodhar to coordinate the electioneering over the next two days.

Claims, counter-claims

The constituency is currently witnessing a no-holds barred attack between the rival coalitions with allegations and counter-accusations flying thick and fast .

After Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala and Communist Party of India (Marxist) State secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan locked horns over the alleged misuse of the State machinery in the electioneering, the UDF has now approached the Election Commission against Fisheries Minister J. Mercykutty Amma.

In a complaint submitted to the Chief Election Commissioner, the coalition accused the Minister of violating Rule 128 of the Representation of the the People Act during a TV interview by promising to establish a fish market in Pala.

Former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, inaugurating a family-meet organised by the UDF here on Tuesday, launched a scathing attack on the State government for ruining the credibility of Kerala’s Public Service Commission.

BJP flays fronts

The Bharatiya Janata Party, on the other side, sharpened its attack attack on both the LDF and the UDF.

Inaugurating a public meeting for N. Hari at Meenachil on Tuesday, BJP State general secretary K. Surendran said both the UDF and the LDF were two sides of the same coin while dealing with nepotism and corruption.

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