The Palakkad Municipality is the only local body in Kerala which is led by the BJP. This unique factor is considered to be an advantage by C Krishnakumar, the municipality Vice Chairman and the BJP's Lok Sabha candidate in Palakkad constituency.
Apart from the municipality, which is part of the Palakkad assembly constituency, Krishnakumar is also a familiar face in the Malampuzha assembly segment. In the 2016 assembly polls, Krishnakumar contested in the Malampuzha assembly constituency against the CPI(M) veteran VS Achuthanandan. Though VS Achuthanandan won the polls, Krishnakumar was the runner-up in the election, pushing back the UDF by securing 29 percent of the votes.
On a hot afternoon while campaigning in the Shoranur assembly segment, which is part of the Palakkad constituency, C Krishnakumar spoke to TNM about the possibilities of winning the polls.
“The BJP has a very strong organisational structure in the constituency. The result of that can be seen in the past assembly polls and local body elections. We came to power in the Palakkad Municipality. In addition to the strong performance in the Malampuzha assembly constituency, we got about 30,000 votes in the other three segments where we'd earlier got just 3,000,” says Krishnakumar.
He also opines that the growth of political parties should not be perceived only based on past election results. “Votes can shoot up in just one election. We have seen that example in Tripura, where the BJP which did not have many votes a term ago, rose to gain power. Even in the case of the Malampuzha assembly constituency, the BJP just got 2,772 votes in the 2011 elections, but in the 2016 assembly polls, our vote share was 46,170. But this time, we are not here just to increase the votes. We are here to win,” asserts Krishnakumar.
‘Sabarimala issue will decide the winner’
The candidates of both the LDF and the UDF – MB Rajesh and VK Sreekandan respectively – hold the view that the Supreme Court's verdict permitting the entry of women in the menstruating age-group to the Sabarimala temple, and the subsequent issues which unfolded in the state, will not be a decisive factor. But, Krishnakumar disagrees and even holds the view that the Sabarimala issue will be the prime factor in Palakkad.
“In Palakkad, the fight is between two sides. On one side stand the people who are trying to save the traditions of the Sabarimala temple and on the other side, there are people who are trying to destroy it. This is what the fight is really about here,” Krishnakumar claims.
Palakkad was one of the places in Kerala where the Sabarimala protests had turned violent. “The issue has created a deep impact among the people, especially in the villages of Palakkad. That is visible in the people’s response during our campaign,” he says.
‘Modi’s schemes will get us votes'
The BJP candidate also holds the view that the various schemes of the central government will convert into votes for the party. “Wherever we go for campaigns, there will be at least one person who was a beneficiary of the various schemes of the Narendra Modi government. This is another main factor which will bring votes to the BJP,” Krishankumar believes.
Krishnakumar is very confident that he does not require any special campaigning in Palakkad town as he is a familiar face. The BJP’s is focusing this time on the Shoranur and Kongad assembly segments where Krishnakumar is not that well-known.
‘Will revive Kanjikode Rail Coach Factory project’
Krishnakumar’s poll promises include one of the long-held dreams of the Palakkad –Kanjikode rail coach factory. The project was first announced in 2008 by the then central government. The foundation stone for the project was laid years later – that too in a different place from the project site. The delay in acquiring land for the project by the then LDF government and the UDF government which came after that, had put a halt on the project.
“When Union Minister Rajnath Singh came to Kerala, he said that if Palakkad people vote for the BJP, then the Kanjikode coach factory will soon become a reality,” he said.
Krishnakumar's poll promises also include the development of the tribal regions of the constituency.
“In Attapadi, there are postgraduates who do not have a job. I am focused on bringing a centre for skill development from the central government. We will also bring other industries under the ‘Make in India’ project to solve the lack of employment opportunities in the constituency,” Krishnakumar says.