Congress promises better life to people as LDF faces tough battle in Alappuzha, other places

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi gets traction as he promises to put more money in people’s hands, MSP for rubber, coconut and paddy producers

Congress promises better life to people as LDF faces tough battle in Alappuzha, other places

Ashlin Mathew

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Monday slammed the Pinarayi Vijayan-led LDF government in Kerala and promised various sops for the people if Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) comes to power. The Wayanad MP is on a two-day tour of Ernakulam, Alappuzha and Kottayam districts in poll-bound Kerala.

The Congress leader also promised minimum support price (MSP) for rubber, coconut and paddy producers.

“The Congress will put money into people’s hands and that will trigger the economy. The first thing UDF will do once they come to power is transfer Rs 6,000 for every poor household every month under Nyay. This is not charity or a favour. Also, Rs. 2000 every month would be given to every housewife between the age of 40 and 60. We understand what Kuttanad wants,” Rahul told a gathering at Alappuzha.

He also attacked the Vijayan government over the plight of fishermen.

“The fishermen face a considerable amount of risk as no one knows if they will be able to catch fish, or if they will come back. Even as their lives are extremely difficult, the Chief Minister has made a deal with an American trawler company. Those who are making the laws are not concerned about those it will affect,” said Gandhi.

In Cherthala Assembly constituency, UDF’s S Sarath is standing against LDF’s P Thilothaman. The Congress is hoping to wrest this seat from the LDF as it used to be the seat of former Kerala chief minister and veteran Congress leader AK Antony. Communist Party of India’s Thilothaman has been the MLA here since 2006. The LDF workers are in a fix as their own PS Jyothis has switched camps and is now NDA candidate from Cherthala.

“Yes, Thilothaman has won thrice, but who said he will win this time too? Our votes are not anyone’s property. We will vote based on the work he has done. But, what has he done? He is a good man, but look around, can you see any development in this area? We are still considered rural,” said 60-year-old Ravi.

Remya, a resident of Pattanakad, echoed similar views. “Our house here did not have piped drinking water until two years ago. Will you believe this is happening in Kerala?”

She added that it was only in Cherthala that everyone was enquiring about the NDA candidate but for the wrong reasons. “That is only because he switched from CPI(M). That has upset both the local CPI(M) and NDA workers. This is likely to give an advantage to Sarath, who has been helping people even though he lost elections,” explained Remya.

But Vinod, who runs a small shop at Patanakkad junction, disagrees. He said that he survived through the pandemic only because of the kit that LDF gave. “I got 40 kg rice every month. We survived because of it. I am a physically challenged person. Ever since LDF came to power, my pension would come without fail to my account. So, why will I not vote for LDF,” said Vinod.

At Aroor, where Shanimol Usman is the UDF candidate, there is hope that she will pull off the victory again. She won the 2019 byelection after CPI(M)’s MA Ariff won the Lok Sabha election. Congress had won the Aroor seat after 18 years and she had won with a margin of 1,900 votes. She is contesting against Daleema Jojo of CPI(M).

“She has been visible after she won. She did not have enough time, but she seems to be capable. My brother had gone to her for some work and she readily helped. We can’t say yet who will win. Daleema is panchayat vice president, though she is more famous as a singer,” said Raju, a taxi driver.

In Alappuzha Assembly constituency, KS Manoj is the UDF candidate against LDF’s PP Chitharanjan. Here, a controversy had broken out two days ago after the NDA candidate Sandeep Vachaspathi of the BJP paid a floral tribute at the Punnapra-Vayalar martyrs’ column.

“Sandeep did it to garner attention and create trouble. Otherwise no one was talking about him. NDA is not a factor here. LDF’s Chitharanjan only helps certain people, while Manoj helps everyone. Moreover, this constituency has both Muslims and Christians whose votes will get consolidated,” said Tomy at Alappuzha.

That Chittaranjan only selectively helps people was endorsed by Remya, whose mother’s house is in Alappuzha town.

Ambalapuzha will see a tough fight between UDF’s M Liju and H Salam of the LDF. The current MLA is minister for public works G Sudhakaran of the CPI(M), who was not given a ticket along with the finance minister Dr TM Thomas Issac, who is the incumbent Alappuzha MLA.

There were posters put up across Ambalapuzha questioning CPI(M)’s move as Sudhakaran was a popular leader. “Liju is known in the area. He had contested from Kayamkulam in 2016, but had lost to the CPI(M)’s U Pratibha. He works hard, but the UDF did not gain during local body elections. LDF’s candidate is from SDPI. We can’t say who has an edge now. Rahul Gandhi has promised Rs 6,000, so we will vote accordingly,” said Rajan, who was on the bus from Alappuzha to Changanassery.

Campaigning for both Liju and Manoj at Alappuzha Rahul Gandhi maintained the Congress was against violence be it by Left or by the BJP-RSS. “Their ideologies are of division. Congress is not interested in division,” he said.

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Published: 23 Mar 2021, 8:59 PM