Vol. XLIII No. 12 March 24, 2019
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A Day on Campaign Trail

N S Sajith

CHEVARAMBALAM, a small hamlet near Kozhikode city, has got many stories to tell about its beloved late comrades, P Krishnapillai and A K Gopalan. Both of them organised workers and peasants in this area decades ago. Through the legends passing from generation to generation, these great leaders are still alive in the memory of the people here. On March 30, the whole hamlet of Chevarambalam was present at Thottilpeedika to hear what CPI(M) Polit Bureau member S Ramachandran Pillai had to say. More than a thousand people had gathered here despite the scorching heat of Meenavenal (summer heat in the month of Meenam in Malayalam calendar). Six years old Avantika was present there with a red garland made of hibiscus flowers, well before SRP’s arrival. When the car reached the spot, thundering slogans ensued. Avantika, wearing a red cap, duly garlanded the senior leader. SRP’s campaign in Kozhikode constituency began from Mannur Valav in Kadalundi panchayat which lies near the border of Malappuram district. There he spoke for about 30 minutes. His speech, full of scrupulous criticism of the UPA government at the centre and of the UDF government in Kerala, was received by the audience with frequent claps. People sat like studious students with SRP, like a good teacher, imparting political education to all. Referring to A K Antony’s criticism of the CPI(M), SRP said: “The UPA administration has been the rule of the superrich, by the superrich, for the superrich. Crorepatis have been the beneficiaries of the Congress policies. If Antony terms its policies as novel, we reject this novelty.” The words reflected the CPI(M)’s dedication to the downtrodden people of India. He urged the people to strengthen the Left and secular forces to oust the corrupt Congress from power and keep the communal BJP away from it. Wrapping up his speech, he urged the people to vote for A Vijayaraghavan, the LDF candidate here. Along with the CPI(M)’d state secretariat member Elamaram Karim, an MLA, and district secretary T P Ramakrishnan, SRP attended five public meetings of the LDF in this district. Later, while addressing a Meet the Press programme in Eranakulam Press Club, S Ramachandran Pillai ridiculed the manifesto of the Congress party as a farce, adding that the people are poised to oust the Congress party from power that has made the common people’s life miserable through its neo-liberal policies. He also hoped that the CPI(M) would win more seats this time. In regard to the Congress manifesto, SRP referred to the impact of the neo-liberal policies pursued by the Congress on the state of mass misery, unemployment and poverty, health and education etc. The Congress rule has only helped a few superrich who have enjoyed tax concession of Rupees 25 lakh crores. The Congress is going to pursue these same policies in future if voted to power it has no vision to curb corruption, SRP said. CAMPAIGN IN KANNUR She is known as a teacher. Everywhere she is a familiar face and with a smile she calls most of the people by name. P K Sreemathi --- or Sreemathi Teacher, as she is fondly known --- is a member of the CPI(M) Central Committee and the party's candidate for the Kannur Lok Sabha constituency. For her, this election campaign is just another fight for the rights of the people and an involvement in their life. Sreemathi is a teacher not only for her thousands of disciples but for the entire people of Kannur. Kannur, a land with the legacy of peasant struggles, is now poised to elect its teacher in the coming elections. The pathetic performance of K Sudhakaran, the sitting Congress MP from Kannur constituency, is at the centre of all discussion now. Most notably, he was not present in any of the people's struggles against the unilateral imposition of the Kasturirangan committee's recommendations. Sreemathi has been campaigning among the people of Kannur, asking them to reject the Congress and to provide an opportunity to the Left so that its position is strengthened in parliament and it continues to forge struggles for an alternative policy regime in favour of the working people of the country. KODIYERI AT KOZHIKODE A government which is led by Left, secular and democratic parties would assume power after the Lok Sabha elections, said the CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Kodiyeri Balakrishnan while addressing the LDF public meetings at various centres in Kozhikode district on 29 March. Kodiyeri said it is sure that the Congress and the BJP are going to lose these elections heavily. The people of India have wholeheartedly taken the responsibility to oust the Congress government which has made the common people’s life miserable. Price rise, corruption, unemployment, women’s security, the rights of minorities, scheduled castes and scheduled tribes are the main electoral issues now. The CPI(M) leader also warned that the Congress is going to spend a part of the huge money it has amassed through the multi-crore corruption scams; amounting to 5.5 lakh crore rupees on the election campaign. Rahul Gandhi has presented Rs 2.5 crore to each candidate of the country. But the people would not fall in this money trap of the Congress, Kodiyeri hoped. PINARAYI IN ALAPPUZHA CPI(M) state secretary and Polit Bureau member Pinarayi Vijayan recently asserted that the minority communities of the country have full faith and confidence in the Left parties and would contribute keeping the BJP away from power. He said so while addressing public meetings at various centres on 27March in Alappuzha constituency, where CPI(M) state committee member C B Chandrababu is in the contest. Pinarayi also said the Congress never took a firm stand against communalism, in fact it has been lenient towards communalism, at every critical juncture the country faced. But this time the Congress is itself too weak to combat the BJP, he added. According to the CPI(M) leader, the Congress and the BJP are votaries of the same economic policies which are heavily anti-people. The Congress led government at the centre was able to pass its anti-people measures like the pension bill only with the support of the BJP. The people know all these facts and will definitely support the Left, Pinarayi said. He also termed the election manifesto of the Congress as a big farce, as it repeats the same old slogans and promises. For example, the Congress which has not taken even a small step to curtail the menace of black money, has again repeated its old promise on the black money issue, Pinarayi said. THAROOR SUFFERS SLEEPLESS NIGHTS If the Congress high command had imported with much fanfare a candidate five years back, now the same person is facing a multitude of allegations and has thus become a liability for the Congress party. He is the UDF’s ‘international candidate,’ Shashi Tharoor, in Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha constituency. However, it is apparent that this constituency is now all set to present a huge victory to the LDF candidate, Dr Benet Abraham, over Tharoor. The constituency is currently at the centre of attention in national and international media, with the candidature of Shashi Tharoor, a former UN bureaucrat. However, the allegations of corruption in connection with the “sweat equity” in the Kochi T20 team, his subsequent resignation from the post of minister of state for external affairs, his breach of promises all along, and quite recently the death of his wife, Sunanda Tharoor, under dubious circumstances --- all this has made it difficult for him to face the disturbing questions coming from voters. As is well known, Tharoor made a large bouquet of promises last time. Establishment of a Kerala High Court bench in Thiruvananthapuram within a hundred days, commissioning of the Vizhinjam harbour, a facelift and beautification of the capital city like the Spanish city of Barcelona, and creation of a world class railway station here were the main promises he made in 2009. But nothing has materialized. He proved extremely inapt in solving the garbage issue in the capital city. Thiruvananthapuram railway division is going to be weakened with the proposed bifurcation. When the people and the media ask him about Sunanda’s death, he simply evades the question and shows indifference. In the beginning of his campaign trail, he filed a complaint against the CPI(M) district secretary, M Vijayakumar, for having referred to Sunanda Pushakar’s death. But, giving him a number of sleepless nights, tallest leaders like V S Achuthanandan have also made their speeches in references to Sunanda’s dubious death. By now, the LDF candidate has covered the entire constituency. Born in an ordinary family, Dr Benet Abraham is a self-made person who became a medical practitioner and is now heading a medical institute. The BJP has fielded Rajagopal, a former minister of state for railways, for the third consecutive time.