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LDF hopes rice scheme will work in its favour in Ollur

Mini Muringatheri

Sitting MLA Rajaji Mathew Thomas pitted against UDF's M. P. Vincent



Rajaji Mathew Thomas



M. P. Vincent



K. G. K. Sundar Rajan

Ollur: As ‘rice politics' animates sound bites in election campaigns across the State, sitting MLA Rajaji Mathew Thomas of the CPI, and the LDF candidate in Ollur, has a reason to smile.

He is viewed as a frontline fighter for the Rs.2 a kg rice scheme. He has pursued the rice scheme case up to the Supreme Court. The LDF Government's decision to distribute rice at Rs. 2 a kg and the Election Commission's move to block the scheme are major campaign issues for both the fronts.

While, the LDF accuses the UDF of scuttling a pro-poor scheme, the UDF calls it a pre-poll gimmick to woo the voters.

The controversy, however, gave a huge political mileage to Mr. Thomas, who is trying his luck for the second time in Ollur. His rival candidate, M. P. Vincent of the Congress, is in no mood to be intimidated by the hullabaloo of ‘rice politics'. “The LDF cannot fool the voters here. Such election stunts cannot pacify either the voters who had been evicted for widening the National Highway nor the settler farmers who have been endlessly waiting for title deeds,” says Mr. Vincent.

K. G. K. Sundar Rajan, a teacher, is the BJP candidate.

Ollur, the map of which includes a diverse geographical pattern of town, villages, forest and farmlands, had stood with the UDF in eight Assembly elections. It shifted its loyalty towards the LDF four times.

If the Ollur voters have shown a special affection towards the Antony group, CPI is their favourite in the LDF fold. Ollur is famous for its tile factories.

High-rise chimneys of tile factories dot its landscape. But, shortage of clay, the main raw material for the tile industry, has turned many of its factories sick. Both the CITU and INTUC have strong bases in the labour-intensive tile industry. Manufacture of packing cases, another industry that flourished in the constituency, is also in the doldrums for want of soft wood.

The constituency has many high-profile institutions such as the Kerala Agricultural University, Kerala Forest Research Institute and the Banana Research Centre.

The Christian votes in the constituency have helped the UDF win many elections. There have been allegations that a religious leader had intervened in securing the seat for the UDF candidate in Ollur.

At a recent press conference Mr. Thomas opined that elections should be conducted on a secular platform. “Vested interests should not be allowed to drag religion and faith into the poll arena. Religion should be keep out of politics,' he said.

The Ollur constituency comprises Koorkkanchery, Chiyyaram, Kanimangalam, Puthur , Pananchery, Madakkathara, Nadathara panchayats and a few divisions of the Thrissur Corporation.

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