Israel rules Tharoors seat; infra missing in poll-talk

Written by M Sarita Varma | Thiruvananthapuram | Updated: Apr 18 2009, 05:24am hrs
Very few in the Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha constituency would have known much about Israel till about couple of months ago. Paradoxically, it has been catapulted at the centre of much of the pre-poll debate in the constituency. And to such a feverish pitch that the infrastructure-hungry Kerala Capital finds mention of development sorely missing in its poll-talk.

Shashi Tharoor, the Congress candidate, better known as English novelist and former undersecretary general at the UN, was suddenly alleged of being pro-Israeli and anti-Muslim. It was a perhaps a copy editor at the newsdesk of Israeli daily Haaretz who inadvertently gave this curious twist. The headline given to Tharoors syndicated article on Mumbai terror attacks said Indias Israel envy. The CPI(M)-led LDF lost no time in pouncing on the issue dropped by the Congress-led UDF candidate.

The Indo-Israeli missile deal signed just a week before election announcement, came handy. The Left brandished a quote from the Israeli JV partner firm that Rs 600 crore was paid as business charges to India. Now even the corner-teashopwalla speaks of the Palestinian cause.

Meanwhile, the LDF has managed to field a candidate with home-grown credentials to counter the distinguished halo of Tharoor. While London-born, long-time New York resident Congress candidate is heaved down by his outsider tag, the CPI candidate Ramachandran Nair is the typical man next door. Last time, LDF had won 18 out of 20 Kerala seats.

Nobody would be surprised if the contest zooms to a triangle or quadrangle in Thiruvananthapuram, a land of floating population and migrants. BJP is yet to open its Lok Sabha account in Kerala, but in Thiruvananthapuram the state party chief PK Krishnadas could easily eat into the Congress vote-base. Equally intriguing is the Dalit spin that BSP candidate Neelalohithadasan Nadar could deliver by pushing down down both LDF and UDF votes.

Meanwhile, peoples expectations are many and varied. Says 41-year-old Venu Suresh, former Gulf expat, 41 years, My vote is going to be apolitical this time. Thiruvananthapuram is yet to get the international city status that it deserves because of its poor bargaining pitch at Delhi. I would vote for a strategist-lobbyist who can rev up the aerospace hub that Kerala captial is rapidly becoming. Id like to see it as Indias knowledge capital, encashing the states literacy and tourist destination status.

Bindu Kumari, farmer, also knows what she wants. I am told development would make land dearer. So I am concerned whether those displaced from their homes by the Rs 10,000-crore Vizhinjam port could be decently compensated. My vote would be only for the candidate wholl be fair to the victims of development too.

For Madhavan Pillai, former private sector employee, infrastructure is a big issue. Our roads are dotted with potholes and any modest shower floods the citys over-burdened drainage system. Drinking water supply is sporadic, power-cuts are an everyday event and a senior citizen on an evening walk may not even get the mercy of a bus-shelter. If a candidate comes with an action-schedule to make civic life any better, Id be the first to vote for him.

Then and now

Constituency: Thiruvananthapuram. It went to poll on April 16

PRE-DELIMITATION

Population: 7,44,739 (as per 2001 Census)

Voting population in 2004: 1,250,000

Constituency break-up: Assembly constituencies of Thiruvananthapuram, Vattiyurkavu, Nemom, Parassala, Kovalam, Neyyattinkara and Thiruvananthapuram West.

Candidates (Pre-delimiation):

Panniyan Ravindran: Left Democratic Front

O Rajagopal: BJP

VS Sivakumar: Congress-led UDF

POST-DELIMITATION

Constituency break-up: Assembly constituencies of Thiruvananthapuram, Vattiyurkavu, Nemom, Parassala, Kovalam, Neyyattinkara and Kazhakoottam>

Voting population in 2008: 1,341,000

Urban: 34%

Rural:66%

Sex ratio: 1,057 females to 1000 males

Literacy rate: 89%

Female literacy

rate: 86%

NAME OF CANDIDATES:

P Ramachandran Nair: Left Democratic Front

Shashi Tharoor: Congress-led UDF

PK Krishnadas: BJP

A Neelalohithadasan Nadar: BSP