//Campaign picks up in Kerala

Campaign picks up in Kerala

Thiruvananthapuram, Apr 9 : Campaigning has gained momentum for the first phase of assembly polls in Kerala covering 59 constituencies in six southern districts where several key figures, including Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, heading the Congress-led ruling UDF, are in the fray.

The outcome of polls in Travancore region on April 22 is considered crucial by both the UDF and the CPI(M)-led LDF as political tilts in the area had often decided formation of ministries in the past.

The region overwhelmingly favoured the UDF in 2001 assembly polls, reversing its pro-LDF stance of 1996 that put the coalition into power.

Apart from stock campaign themes like "development" and "corruption", open support pledged to the LDF by Muslim outfits like Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Jamat-e-Islami have become hot topics of debates in the run-up to the polls.

While the LDF hopes that the support from minority outfits and social groups would reinforce its position, the UDF leaders have expressed confidence that majority of Muslims will continue to remain with the coalition in which Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) is a major partner.

The Congress leaders, however, have accused the LDF of pursuing a policy of communal appeasement and opportunism by wooing outfits like the PDP and Jamat-e-Islami.