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Achuthanandan secure in his ‘fortress'

G. PRABHAKARAN MALAMPUZHA

Kerala Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan, the 87-year-old CPI(M) warhorse, launched his election campaign in Malampuzha in Palakkad district with a call to fight against corruption in all walks of life.

His appeal to save democracy from money power, which he accuses the Congress of wielding, has struck a chord with the masses. In street corner meetings, the crowd cheers lustily whenever he declares that those who rob the State exchequer will be jailed.

Having arrived in the constituency after a whirlwind tour of the State, Mr. Achuthanandan, accompanied by his wife Vasumathy, is ready to hit the road at 8 a.m. after meeting with his campaign managers.

Media personnel are gathered to follow his campaign in Malampuzha, where he is contesting the election for the third consecutive time. His uncompromising stand on corruption and some other issues had angered some of his CPI(M) comrades, resulting in his initial exclusion from the candidate list. But the public outcry and protests from the party persuaded the CPI(M) leadership to change its mind.

Mr. Achuthanandan highlights the achievements of the Left Democratic Front government, especially in arresting price rice, granting subsidies for essential commodities, and strengthening the public distribution system. He is banking on the welfare measures implemented by the government to garner support.

In Malampuzha, he can take comfort from the fact that it has been a communist citadel since 1964. Another Chief Minister, E.K. Nayanar, was elected twice from here in 1980 and 1982. Though Mr. Achuthanandan's election managers are certain that their fortress will not be breached, they are taking no chances. That certain “dark forces” and “mafia gangs” may attempt to sabotage his election is something they dread.

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