Development, Sabarimala become poll planks
Cacophonous announcements fill the air on a sultry Monday afternoon at the Devaswom Board junction leading to the Cliff House. The scene is symbolic of the intense poll heat being witnessed in the Vattiyurkavu constituency, considered a prestigious seat in the battle for power.
Amidst the din, the lead announcer in the CPI(M) campaign vehicle dishes out details about the achievements of the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government and makes a fervent appeal to vote for V.K. Prasanth who “deserved five years after managing to initiate works worth ₹1,123 crore in the constituency within 500 days”.
As if on cue, Mr. Prasanth makes an entry in his personal vehicle and greets the public before delving into his campaign. The former Thiruvananthapuram Mayor, who has carefully cultivated a persona that resonated with the youth since leading the relief measures during the 2018 floods, has made development his prime poll plank. He is fighting to retain the seat that he won in a by-election in 2019.
“Despite efforts by the opposition parties to divert public focus, bread-and-butter issues along with infrastructure development are going to determine the poll outcome. We formulated a development plan for the constituency. During the last 17 months, we could solve the drinking water problem in city to a large extent. Besides renovating numerous roads, we could also initiate the development of the Vattiyurkavu junction,” he said.
Choosing a slightly different path to win over the electorate, his opponents have raised faith along with the constituency’s development as their poll issues. Besides, they have banked on caste undercurrents in a segment where the Nair community hold sway.
Interacting with local residents in Ambala Nagar, United Democratic Front (UDF) candidate Veena S. Nair points out the raging Sabarimala issue and other matters relating to faith are as important for the local community.
Ms. Nair, who is hoping to exploit her ‘native’ tag, adds she held great hopes for the constituency where she grew up. “I hope to find solutions to our long-standing problems including the development of the Vattiyurkavu and Peroorkada junctions, traffic and parking woes of the city, and the lack of trauma and cancer care centres in the constituency,” he said.
Not far off, National Democratic Alliance (NDA)’s candidate, BJP district president V.V. Rajesh, is set to commence his campaign near Muttada from the vicinity of the Anchumukku Devi temple and a Nair Service Society (NSS) karayogam office.
While claiming that Vattiyurkavu has been a nerve-centre in the ‘Sabarimala movement’, he says there is no dearth in campaign issues owing to the “pitiable plight’’ of the capital city.
“Thiruvananthapuram (of which Vattiyurkavu comprised a major portion) has not developed on par with other State capitals. Despite being a hub of educational and research institutions and home to several intellectuals, the region lacked facilities. The Narendra Modi-led Centre could play a major role in developing the city, provided we opened the doors to such initiatives. For one, the privatisation of the Thiruvananthapuram International Airport is expected to usher in much development,” he says.
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