Tough Battle Returns to Chalakudy After a Decade


Congress keeps Benny Behanan, CPI(M) introduces C. Raveendranath, and BJP’s NDA nominates KA Unnikrishnan from its ally BDJS….reports Asian Lite News

A tough Lok Sabha poll battle has returned to Chalakudy constituency in Kerala after nearly a decade.

While the Congress has decided to retain Benny Behanan the sitting member, the CPI(M) has brought in former state Education Minister, C Raveendranath and the BJP-led NDA has fielded KA Unnikrishnan who belongs to its ally Bharath Dharma Jana Sena (BDJS).

The last poll battle here was seen in 2014 when the CPI(M) sprang a surprise and fielded one of Malayalam film industry’s most liked and popular actors Innocent, who took on PC Chacko, a battle-scarred Congress veteran and sitting Lok Sabha member from Thrissur Lok Sabha constituency.

Innocent shocked many by winning with a margin of over 13,000 votes.

After a few years, Innocent was diagnosed with cancer. After he went into remission the CPI(M) asked him to contest again in the 2019 polls, but this time the popular comedian did not have the last laugh and lost by over 1.30 lakh votes to Congress veteran Behanan.

After that loss, Innocent concentrated on his profession, but cancer got the better of him and he passed away on March 26, 2023.

With its prestige at stake, the CPI(M) decided to bring back Raveendranath, the soft spoken, retired college Professor, who is more known for being an educator than a politician.

His term as the Education Minister from 2016-2021 passed without any controversy.

However, the Congress appears confident, as four out of the seven Assembly segments in the Chalakudy Lok Sabha constituency were won by Congress candidates in the 2021 Assembly polls, even though Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan won a stupendous victory and became the first to retain office after a five year term.

The NDA appears to be equally confident that the ‘Modi Guarantee’ which is the key campaign point for them, will be able to tilt things in their favour. But it seems a tough ask as in the 2021 polls, their candidate managed to get just 1.28 lakh votes.


CPI-M Ex-MLA Stays Loyal

A day after speculation surfaced that three-time former Kerala CPI-M legislator S. Rajendran might join the BJP, things appeared to have cooled down on Thursday with the Left leader confirming with top party bosses that he will not do anything that might put his party in duress.

The tongues started to wag that he might leave after he was spotted at the Delhi residence of senior party leader Prakash Javadekar in the national capital on Wednesday.

Rajendran, accompanied by some leaders from Tamil Nadu, called on Javadekar, who is the BJP state charge also.

“ The meeting was nothing political and I will continue with the CPI-M,” said Rajendran on Thursday at his residence in Munnar in Idukki district.

Sources in the know of things pointed out that Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan spoke to him and he assured he will not do anything which will put the party in duress with the Lok Sabha polls round the corner.

Soon after Vijayan spoke, CPI-M state secretary M.V.Govindan had a conference call with Rajendran with Idukki district party secretary Vargheese also on line.

But Rajendran is understood to have informed the party that he might not be very active in the election campaign.

Rajendran had been one of the tallest CPI-M leaders in the Idukki district, where the backbone of the CPI-M is the large number of workers in the plantation sector. He had represented the Devikulam Assembly constituency for three terms since 2006 and was deeply upset when the party rejected his request for a ticket in the 2021 Assembly polls.

Following this, Rajendran was further peeved after his party ordered a probe against him and a two-member committee found him guilty of gross indiscipline and recommended that he be stripped of his party membership for a year.

Kerala Goes Green On Polls

The office of the Chief Electoral Officer in Kerala on Thursday released a handbook on the ‘green protocol’ to be followed strictly by campaigners and election officials during the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

All 20 seats of Kerala will go to the polls on April 26, in the second of the multi-phase Lok Sabha elections.

Chief Electoral Officer Sanjay Kaul released the handbook “Lok Sabha Elections 2024 Green Protocol Compliance Doubts and Answers”, prepared in collaboration with the Suchitwa Mission and Haritha Keralam Mission.

It guides stakeholders on using eco-friendly materials during the electioneering to minimise polluting garbage being generated.

Significantly, the elections are being held when the state government is pressing ahead with a massive “Malinya Muktam Nava Keralam” campaign and a slew of other big-ticket schemes like the Kerala Solid Waste Management Project (KSWM).

The Election Commission of India has also issued instructions to use only nature-friendly materials for election-related activities. Propaganda materials using flex boards, plastic flag poles, polyester cloth, and similar polluting substances should be strictly avoided. Propaganda boards and banners should be made of cotton and paper.

Natural materials like ‘panampaya’ (palm leaf mats), ‘pulpaya’ (grass mats), palm leaves, reeds, bamboo, and areca nut leaves should also be used. Similarly, eco-friendly materials should be used to decorate election offices of political parties.

The District Election Officer will take action if prohibited materials are found to be used.

The handbook also asks campaigners to explore the possibilities of digital technology, which will reduce the use of non-degradable campaign materials significantly. It is also suggested that flower garlands, cotton shawls, books, and fruit baskets be given as gifts at receptions to candidates.

On the polling day on April 26, the protocol suggests polling officials should take care to avoid plastic items while setting up the polling booths.

The polling officials and agents should use steel plates and glasses instead of plastic products while consuming food and water. Eco-friendly plates and glasses should be kept at polling stations. The district administration should ensure that the voter slips are not left around the booths but delivered to the collection centres or handed over to scrap dealers.

After the elections, the local self-government bodies, political parties, the Haritha Keralam Mission, Suchitwa Mission and other voluntary organisations should remove the materials used for election campaigns and carry out cleaning activities.

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