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Alappuzha to witness fierce three-way contest

The Alappuzha Lok Sabha constituency in Kerala is gearing up for a neck-to-neck triangular contest between Congress, Communist Party of India (Marxist) and BJP…reports Asian Lite News

The land of backwaters, with its history of swinging in favour of both the majors, Congress and the ruling CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF), comprises seven assembly segments spread across Alappuzha and Kollam districts, namely, Aroor, Cherthala, Alappuzha, Ambalappuzha, Haripad, Kayamkulam and Karunagappally.

The grand old party has fielded its general secretary, KC Venugopal, from the seat against the incumbent MP and CPI (M) leader, AM Ariff. Sobha Surendran is contesting as the candidate of the BJP-led NDA.

Alappuzha is a stronghold of Congress, though this constituency has a communist legacy. Venugopal has a successful electoral history in Alappuzha, where he won the seat in the 2009 and 2014 general elections.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, incumbent AM Ariff of the ruling Left Democratic Alliance won the seat, defeating Congress’ Shanimol Usman. It was the lone seat won by the LDF in 2019. However, Ariff’s winning margin was a mere 0.96 per cent.

As per the Election Commission data, the vote share of the CPI (M) was 41.26 per cent while that of the Congress was 40.3 per cent and that of the BJP was 17.3 per cent.

Notably, the BJP made a significant impact, growing from a null in 2014 to 17.3 per cent in 2019, which has made way for a three-way contest in Alappuzha this time.

In 2014, Venugopal won the seat, defeating CPI’s CB Chandrababu by over 19,000 votes, with a winning margin of 1.94 per cent. Also in the 2009 general elections, the Congress heavy hitter won the seat with a majority of over 50,000 votes against CPI(M)’s KS Manoj, who was then seeking re-election in the seat.

Fisherfolk demanding support from the government due to rising fuel prices and shrinking fish catches are among the major issues impacting the votes in the once-thriving coastal region.

Other debated factors included tourism development, especially the houseboat industry, which was the most affected after the severe floods that hit the state in 2018.

The crisis faced by the traditional coir sector is another deciding factor in the constituency.

Venugopal has asserted confidence in the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) winning all seats in the state.

“We are very confident in the first phase of elections. We will do better. The UDF will sweep the elections and the BJP will get zero seats. The people of Kerala are wise enough to understand the hidden agendas of the BJP,” Venugopal said during one of his campaigns.

“Every time they say there is a wave in their favour, but this is not true,” sitting MP Ariff told ANI.

“Last time my party and LDF decided to contest against him and that time he (Venugopal) told everyone that he had a lot of work in Delhi so he had no time to spare here. I think his duty is now over since most of the Congress leaders have gone to BJP so he can now come back to Kerala. Almost 80-90 per cent of leaders from Congress have gone to the BJP,” Ariff said.

BJP candidate Sobha Surendran banked on Modi’s guarantee and the slogan “a woman union minister for Alappuzha.”

“Congress looted India for 60 years, but PM Modi, divided all the money among people, he gave us hospitals, ration, Ujjwala Yojana, he gave crores of rupees for the empowerment of women. This is Modi’s guarantee. PM Modi seeks votes after working for people…but KC Venugopal and his party seek vote after doing corruption for 60 years,” Sobha told ANI during one of her campaigns.

All 20 Lok Sabha constituencies in Kerala will go to the polls on April 26. The results will be announced on June 4. (ANI)

BJP will be wiped in South, says Hooda

Former Haryana Chief Minister and Leader of Opposition, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, took a swipe at the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) slogan of crossing the 400 mark in the Lok Sabha elections and said that the ruling party will be “wiped” out in the South and “halved” in the North.

Speaking to ANI, on the BJP’s slogan of crossing 400, Hooda said, “BJP will be wiped out in the South and will be halved in the North.”

The Congress leader also said that the party list will be released soon.

Meanwhile, Congress leader Deepender Hooda also spoke to ANI on the release of the party list and asserted that the Congress party’s graph is continuously rising in the country.

“We had already said that Congress will decide on the ticket at the right time and the deliberations of Congress are almost complete. Congress tickets will be announced soon. The Congress party’s graph is continuously rising in the state,” Deepender Hooda told ANI.

Earlier, Haryana Chief Minister Nayab Singh Saini said that Congress has always criticised the schemes introduced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the last ten years, and people will teach them a lesson during the general elections.

In Haryana, voting for all 10 parliamentary seats will be held in a single phase, scheduled for the sixth phase on May 25.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in the state, the BJP swept the state, capturing all 10 seats. In the 2014 elections, the BJP won 7 seats, while the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) won 2 seats and the Congress secured only one seat.

The first phase of polling for the 18th Lok Sabha elections was held on Friday. The polling was held in 108 parliamentary constituencies spread over 21 states and Union Territories.

The next round of voting will be held on April 26. The counting of votes and results will be declared on June 4. (ANI)

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