BJP, LDF keen to break into Thiruvananthapuram

Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Trying his luck for the fourth term, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor is facing a strong contest in the Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha constituency for the April 26 polls, with the BJP making its best attempt to win the seat by fielding Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar and the ruling Left putting forward its popular face and former MP Pannian Raveendran. While the Congress is completely relying on the influence of Tharoor among the cross-section of society in the southern Kerala constituency to retain the seat, the BJP is hoping that Chandrasekhar, a technocrat-turned politician, can win the hearts of the people, ensuring the overall development of the constituency where the party finished second in the previous two elections.

At the same time, the CPI(M)-led LDF believes that the simple and easily accessible image of Pannian, as he is popularly known in the state, will help him influence the voters and wrest the constituency back, defeating both the Congress and the BJP.

As the PTI team visited the famous All Saints’ College, a college for women, in the state capital, Tharoor was reaching out to the students, telling them about the role played by the Indian National Congress in India’s freedom struggle.

“I can teach you one lesson in history. When many countries in other parts of the world got partitioned based on political ideology, India’s partition was based on religion. Pakistan was established as an Islamic state, whereas India continued to be a social, secular, democratic republic,” Tharoor said as curious students listened.

Clad in a light pink kurta and wearing the Congress party shawl, Tharoor took selfies and cheerfully interacted with the teachers and students, unmindful of the time he spent at the college, with a slew of events planned and running already late.

He urged the students, most of them first-time voters, to exercise their franchise cautiously.

“This is a fight to safeguard India’s secular spirit and democracy. So you should vote with great caution,” he told the youngsters, who were too eager to take a photo with the celebrity candidate.

Later, speaking to PTI, the Congress Working Committee member said, “I am very happy with the affection and love that I receive from the people when I meet them. I have been their representative for the last 15 years, and my appeal to them is to allow me to continue the work that I have been doing for them.”

When the PTI team entered into the election committee office of the NDA candidate in Neyyattinkara, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, dressed in a blue kurta, was listening to the suggestions of party workers from different assembly constituencies.

A huge air cooler was placed opposite his cabin, as cool air filled the corridors, giving everyone some respite from the scorching heat.

“I am fully confident that the people of Thiruvananthapuram are longing for a change. They want to be a part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s development concept,” Chandrasekhar told PTI as he stepped out of his cabin to have lunch and later to address local press persons at a meet the press organised by the Neyyattinkara Press Club, some 30 kilometers away from the city.

Along with door-to-door campaigns, Chandrasekhar is also focussing on special events like seminars, meetings with people, and press conferences to get his points across in the Hindu-dominated constituency.

He said he is not distracted by the narratives of the opposition but is focussed on Modi’s mission of development.

“The people of Thiruvananthapuram know that in the last 15 years, the required amount of development has not come to Thiruvananthapuram, and they know how Modi has transformed India in the last 10 years,” he said.

Chandrasekhar said that he came to Thiruvananthapuram considering it just as an election, his first Lok Sabha election, but now he considers it a mission to transform the constituency.

He said the opposition has always been trying to distract the people away from the main topic of the election, which is development and who is more suitable for that.

“They do not want to discuss what they did during their rule. CPI(M) does not want to discuss what they had done in the last eight years of their rule; instead, they are creating insecurities in some communities and distracting them by discussing everything other than the main topic of the election,” the NDA candidate alleged.

During the press meeting as well, Chandrasekhar spoke in detail about what he wanted to do for the constituency and said he was not here to play the politics of hatred but development.

Since it is the month of Ramdan, the evening fast-breaking ceremonies are where the candidates get to meet more people and leaders.

LDF candidate Pannian Raveendran, who was busy campaigning in Parassala constituency, some 40 kilometers away from the city, had rushed to take part in a fast-breaking ceremony organised by the Jamaat-e-Islami in Thiruvananthapuram city.

His rival, Tharoor, and other senior political and religious leaders were also in full attendance.

Raveendran has been concentrating more on the rural parts of the constituency during his campaign, with occasional programmes in the city.

The LDF has a stronger vote bank in rural areas.

“A clear picture in favour of LDF is emerging in Thiruvananthapuram, and I am getting input in favour of LDF when I meet the voters. There is no rural-urban divide here for the LDF to win the support of people,” Pannian, a senior CPI leader, told PTI.

He, however, was not happy about the violations of the Model Code of Conduct by the NDA candidate.

“Our party wing has already lodged a complaint against the NDA candidate for MCC violations. He has been misusing his position as an MoS and making promises, misusing the government machinery,” Pannian alleged.

He said his campaign is progressing well, despite the financial constraints.

Harry Byrne

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