In 2009, when MB Rajesh was just 38, he did not have an easy victory. The CPI(M)'s young face won the polls from the Palakkad Lok Sabha constituency by just 1,820 votes against Sateesan Pacheni of the Congress. But by 2014, Rajesh's stature had grown spectacularly, and the man who had become popular across the district, defeated MP Veerendrakumar of the Socialist Janata (Democratic) Party who contested for the UDF, by a margin of 1,05,300 votes.
Come 2019, Rajesh is once again the LDF candidate from Palakkad. The CPI(M) entrusting a seat to the same person for three consecutive terms is unusual, but a parliamentarian like Rajesh who has performed better than the national average is considered to be the party's best bet in Palakkad, yet again. From 2014 to 2019, Rajesh recommended development works worth Rs 27.38 crore from the MPLADS fund. His stellar record at the Parliament includes 84 percent attendance (national average is 80 percent and state is 77 percent) and participation in 248 debates (national average is 67.1 and state average is 142.5). He has also raised 578 questions (national average is 293 and state average is 424).
The 2019 battle is not going to be just between the LDF and UDF in Palakkad; the BJP with its growing presence in the state counts Palakkad as a seat that the party can realistically win. MB Rajesh, however, disagrees. Speaking to TNM during a break from election campaign amidst soaring temperatures, he says that the fight is between the Left and UDF. “I will not agree with those who say Palakkad will see a triangular fight including the BJP,” Rajesh says.
Two of the three opinion polls conducted by major media houses in Kerala have said that Rajesh will have a tough fight in the constituency and that he will only have a minimal vote margin this time. “I do not give any prominence to opinion polls. During the last election also they had predicted that I will face a tough fight, but you know what happened,” he says, adding that the LDF will secure more number of seats in Kerala than the UDF.
Though Palakkad is one of the districts that saw violent agitations over the Sabarimala temple entry row, the LDF candidate opines that the BJP will not be able to make any gains using the controversy. “People here saw the real face of the BJP during the Sabarimala protest. People saw what the BJP did out in the streets, behaving like goons. So, this will not in any way be a decisive factor,” says Rajesh.
Rajesh asserts that he is confident that his work will speak for him. He has put out a report card, listing out the developmental projects he has brought in. Healthcare initiatives, including a dialysis centre and early cancer detection centre, and various cultural projects like an open gym feature on this report card.
“I have displayed what all I have done in the constituency during the last term in that report card. People can see that and decide who they want to vote for,” he says.
Rajesh notes that he will now focus on tapping more employment opportunities for the people of constituency. “India is facing the biggest unemployment crisis in decades, so I cannot say that I can resolve the unemployment issues suddenly. A policy level change is required for that. But I can say that I will focus on bringing start-ups and women oriented employment opportunities to Palakkad," he says.