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Intense battle brews in Attingal LS seat as political heavyweights clash

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Attingal Lok Sabha Seat

(L-R) Adoor Prakash, V Joy and V Muraleedharan

Attingal: The Attingal Lok Sabha constituency in South Kerala is witnessing a fierce fight, with the notable presence of a union minister, a sitting member of Parliament, and a sitting member of the legislative assembly vying for the seat.

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Attingal, like many other parliamentary constituencies in Kerala, has a mix of hills, midlands, and coastal regions, and poses quite a challenge for candidates to reach out to the people to seek votes.

Sitting MP Adoor Prakash of the Congress is facing a tough fight from the LDF candidate, CPI(M)'s sitting MLA V Joy, and BJP's V Muraleedharan, who is the Union Minister of State for External Affairs.

Muraleedharan, a senior leader of the BJP, was campaigning in the tribal settlement colonies in the Attingal constituency when the PTI team met him on Tuesday.

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The Moododu tribal settlement camp at Kallar is located deep inside the forest, where walking on the road after 6 pm could make you a target of wild animal attacks.

Several posters of Muraleedharan put up on the trees in the forest could be seen as people waited for the arrival of the candidate. They had plucked a bunch of rich, golden-yellow Kanikonna (Golden shower flowers) to welcome him.

However, the tribal settlement was blanketed in a mood of sadness. A poster paying tribute to a young woman could be seen on one of the electric poles. The girl, a member of the tribal community, tragically took her own life allegedly facing disappointment in a romantic relationship.

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The colony was in mourning as they grieved her untimely loss.

As Muraleedharan walked to greet the crowd, he was presented with a traditional tribal headdress and a shawl by his supporters. The women and men gathered there shared their concerns and demands with the candidate, and he nodded in agreement.

"Most of the Central government schemes for tribal people have not reached these settlements. So they need an MP who can ensure the implementation of these schemes and monitor them regularly," V Muraleedharan told PTI, expressing hope that this time Attingal would stand with the BJP-led NDA.

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He said his familiarity with the Attingal constituency, which borders Thiruvananthapuram, will help him in the election. Muraleedharan said he believed that "every constituency in Kerala has 25 to 30 per cent of BJP votes".

He then got into a off-road vehicle to reach the house of the young woman who committed suicide. Muraleedharan consoled her grieving parents and moved on to other settlements after having a brief chat with the tribal forest watchers at the forest check post.

In contrast, the campaigning scene of V Joy, the LDF candidate, in the semi-urban areas of constituency was filled with enthusiasm and energy.

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Joy arrived in an open vehicle at one of the welcome centres in Kottukunnam, near Venjaramoodu. Several youths carrying CPI(M) flags accompanied the candidate's vehicle on two-wheelers. Crackers were burst as the cadres celebrated the campaign of the candidate.

Joy, who is the present MLA from Varkala assembly constituency, is confident of winning Attingal this time, showcasing his performance as an MLA.

"We are sure to win the seat this time. People here know what Muraleedharan has done for them in the last five years and what the sitting MP, Adoor Prakash, has done for them. If you go around, you cannot see a single building bearing the name of the present MP," Joy told PTI, implying that his rivals had nothing to show in terms of performance.

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He was highly critical of both Muraleedharan and Adoor Prakash. Joy said Muraleedharan had only tried to block the development of Kerala for political gains. "Prakash never spoke in Parliament for the state and did not bring any development to the constituency," Joy alleged.

He continued his roadshow, stopping at multiple points to interact with people, asking them to vote for the LDF so that the interests of the state and the spirit of the constitution can be safeguarded.

UDF candidate Adoor Prakash was in a hurry when the PTI team caught up with him at Venjaramoodu junction.

After the brief welcoming formalities concluded, he started walking to every shop in Venjaramoodu junction, spending only a few seconds at each of them. "I have to be in the mosque for fast-breaking. I cannot delay that," the sitting MP said while rushing to meet voters.

He has great confidence that he will retain the seat.

Prakash rejected a BJP functionary's allegations that the saffron party had cross-voted for him in the 2019 elections in Attingal. "I did not get any support from the BJP, and I do not want it. These are election-time stunts, and I am not going to be distracted by these allegations," Prakash told PTI.

He is unfazed by the opposition's allegations that he did not do anything for the constituency, and asserted that the people of the constituency know what he has done for them.

"I am seeking votes to continue what I have done for the constituency. I am not bothered by the opposition candidates or what they allege. There are some projects that I have started that need to be completed," Prakash said.

As devotees observing the holy month of Ramadan gathered to break their fast at Manikkal Juma Masjid, the Congress leader greeted them. He then joined them in breaking the fast, with a sugarless tea and some snacks.

"I have more programmes lined up for tonight," Prakash said as he moved out of the compound to continue his campaign.

Attingal Parliament constituency had been an LDF stronghold all through out, but in 2019, Adoor Prakash wrested the seat from sitting MP A Sampath.

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