Kerala Home Minister and state Congress president, Ramesh Chennithala, is the UDF candidate from Harippad constituency in Alappuzha. Part of the anti-Oommen Chandy group in the party, Chennithala is considered to be a front-runner for the post of CM if the UDF manages to secure a majority in the May 16 election. In an interview to Shaju Philip, he says the UDF faces no anti-incumbency and that the BJP “will not open its account” in the state.
What is your review of the poll situation?
We have a clear edge over the LDF. The UDF has been winning all elections held in the last 10 years. Even in the last civic polls, it was a tie, though the LDF had a slight edge over the UDF. We don’t face any anti-incumbency.
Is that because the Opposition was weak?
The Opposition has been fighting each other. There was no viable opposition in the last five years. They kept demanding the removal of the Opposition leader, not the Chief Minister. They could not perform very well. On the other hand, the UDF has taken up several development work.
What is your election plank?
Development. The LDF does not have any agenda, so that they are focusing their energies on making worthless allegations against the government. We are highlighting our liquor policy, as part of which we will bring in prohibition in 10 years. Women favour the UDF because of our liquor policy. The CPM says Congress has a secret deal with the BJP. CPM is spreading this lie to attract minority votes. People won’t believe them as the Congress is fighting the BJP at the national level. How can we have any deal with the BJP when we are trying for a national alternative by getting together all secular parties and individuals?
How do you see the BJP’s chances?
They will not open their account in Kerala. They don’t have support base in Kerala, where people are secular and educated. But the party seems to be attracting the youth voters. That was then. But now that trend has been arrested. When Narendra Modi came to power, the younger generation had thought that a lot of things would change. There was a halo, which has become hollow. Ezhava leader Vellappally Natesan has joined hands with the BJP. Will that take away your Ezhava votes? Natesan’s support to the BJP will not have much effect. The Ezhava community members are very political. They may go in large numbers to attend the functions of SNDP Yogam (Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam, an Ezhava outfit led by Natesan), but they will vote for the Congress or CPM.