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As Kerala wraps up, will Red fortresses keep the peace?

Tuesday 2 May 2006, by PI*Rajeev

KANNUR, MAY 1 : When ??Red fortresses’’ Kannur and Kasargode, Kerala’s northernmost districts, go to poll on Wednesday, the only thing the rest of Kerala would be keen on knowing is if would be peaceful. This is more so for Kannur district, which had been scripting a saga of political killings for long, until the bloodletting abated three years back.

While everyone in the Red camp, even CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat and Politburo member and CM-probable VS Achuthanandan, were not amused at the ruling Congress Government’s decision to defer the polls in their bastion to the last round for security reasons and have claimed that Kannur was being demonised, the Government is taking no chances. The Election Commission has declared all the 1,477 booths in these districts as ??sensitive’’, while 232 of them have been classified ??vulnerable’’.

Some 7,000 polling officials have been deputed to man the booths, each with a minimum of four staff. Besides, the EC has arranged for 600 digital cameras to photograph the Kannur voters. Twenty-one companies of armed cops from Karnataka to Rajasthan and beyond will be patrolling Kannur from tomorrow to the day of polling. DSP Mathew Polycarp says the cops have already made some 398 preventive arrests locally.

No one really expects the poll in the 15 constituencies of these two districts to be dramatically different this time, but for the slim possibility of a seat or two going either way. In Kannur district, the Left firmly holds seven out of the 10 constituencies-Koothuparambu, Taliparamba, Thalassery, Payyannur, Peringalam, Azhikode and Edakkad. The Congress has Kannur, Irikkur and Peravoor.

The Congress candidate in Kannur is sitting MLA, former forest minister in the Congress-led Government and KPCC general secretary, K Sudhakaran. The CPI(M) has an additional reason to throw everything into denying Sudhakaran a repeat victory: He figures in the conspiracy behind the sensational 1995 murder attempt on the party Central Committee member EP Jayarajan, on a running train in Andhra Pradesh. His fellow accused is a minister in the Congress-led Government, MV Raghavan. Both have been summoned by a Principal Sessions Court in Andhra Pradesh on June 5. The case is that two armed assassins were hired to stalk and kill Jayarajan while he was returning from a party meeting in New Delhi by the Rajdhani Express, on April 12, 1995. Jayarajan, however, survived the attack. Predictably, Sasi who was absconding, was soon found murdered, but the cops managed to arrest Dinesh.

In Kasargode, where the CPI(M) commands three constituencies and the Congress-led UDF two, the only factor of local speculative interest is whether the CPI(M), which had traditionally been voting for Muslim League candidate Cherkalam Abdullah to prevent the BJP-which has a relatively strong presence-from winning, will do it this time as well when the party has put up senior leader CH Kunhambu.

See online : The Indian Express

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