On a narrow bylane near the Ayilam road in Attingal, away from the loud campaigning in the main thoroughfares, the outgoing Municipal chairman M.Pradeep and three other Left Democratic Front (LDF) workers are quietly making their way from one house to the next on Wednesday morning. There is no introduction after knocking each door, for they are by now familiar in these parts, having completed three such rounds of campaigning for the local body elections.
“Five years back, we used to have large groups for door-to-door campaigning, to show our ground strength. Now after COVID-19, this is safer. We are focussing most on small neighbourhoods, family meetings with around 20 people, where we explain to the people what we have done in the past 15 years and what we are planning to do. The people also know what we have done,” says Mr.Pradeep.
At ACAC Nagar, P.Unnikrishnan, the Kodumon ward candidate of the United Democratic Front (UDF) and his group of workers are at the fag end of their forenoon campaign. Having successfully contested here four times already, he is confident of winning again.
“You need not have come again. We will anyway vote for you,” an old woman tells him.
“This is a ward where I know everyone personally. Still, I have to do what I am supposed to do. We will regain power this time. The BJP will do even worse than in 2015,” he says.
In front of a tea shop at Kunnath ward, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate M.Divakaran is using the break also to canvas for some votes. An NRI for 35 years, he had returned to his native place just two-and-half years back, and has been active in social work since then.
“Even during my long tenure in Kuwait, I used to visit here at least twice a year. So, I have always been in touch with the people here. The BJP is certain of improving its tally,” he says.
The widening of the National Highway-66 stretch from Poovanpara to Moonnumukku is currently progressing. For long, it has been a constant issue in electoral battles, but this time it is a race to take credit for the work that has begun. While the LDF points at the Municipality’s interventions in ensuring the completion of the land acquisition process, the UDF claims that things took off only after its MP, Adoor Prakash took charge last year.
The BJP, meanwhile, claims that it was the Modi government which has finally gone ahead with the project, which has been in the works for decades. Along with the local issues, the many political controversies at the State and the national level are very much part of the campaign noise in Attingal.
In the past four decades, the LDF has lost the municipality only once, when UDF won in 2000. In 2015, it won 22 seats out of the total 31 seats in the municipal council.
The UDF was reduced to five and the BJP put up an improved show, winning four seats. All the three fronts have retained some of the candidates who they think are sure-fire winners, and who have some influence with the local populace.
The UDF and the BJP are banking on possible anti-incumbency after an unbroken fifteen year tenure, but the LDF hopes its performance, which won it many awards, would see it through.