Thiruvananthapuram: The poll campaign in Kerala is expected to witness acrimonious scenes, as political parties indulge in verbal attacks for the April 13 Assembly elections, pushing vital issues like development into the background.

Both the ruling CPI (M)-led LDF and the UDF headed by the Congress party have been leveling corruption and other allegations at each other.

What makes the political scene murkier is the resurfacing of the ‘ice cream parlour' sex scam which dominated much of the poll debate in 2006 to the peril of the UDF which was unseated by the LDF then.

The allegation targeting Indian Union Muslim League leader P K Kunhalikitty, levelled by his brother-in-law Rouf that he had helped his relative to wriggle out of the scam, jolted the UDF, which has done extremely well in the last Lok Sabha and civic polls.

These issues were seized by LDF, especially Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan, and it asserted that ‘sexual exploiters’ and ‘corrupt’ would be handcuffed and paraded.

The 87-year-old CPI (M) veteran will leverage the sex scam and corruption cases to ensure his continuance as the team leader of LDF, upsetting the plans of his foes within CPI-M to 'send him home', say political observers here.
 
Realising that LDF has suddenly got its arsenal replenished, the UDF leaders have begun to single out and attack Achuthanandan leveling a slew of allegations against his son V A Arun Kumar, a technocrat who holds a key position in a state-run institution.

The UDF charge against Kumar included his misusing his father's position for personal gains, making foreign trips without proper permission and seeking to sabotage a CBI probe into irregularities in operations of outside-state lotteries.

The LDF's move to drag the Congress' Chief Ministerial contender Oommen Chandy into the palmolein case has made the UDF doubly tenacious in its attack on the Chief Minister. Chandy was the Finance Minister in 1991-92 when the palmolein deal was cleared.

Meanwhile, the Congress party workers are demanding that those facing charges should be denied ticket.

Nevertheless, LDF and UDF would be giving a prominent place for economic development and strengthening of social security in their election manifestos.

According to LDF convener and senior CPI (M) leader Vaikom Viswan, the achievements of the Achuthanandan government and its corruption-free performance would prominently figure in the coalition’s campaign.

The UDF leaders, however, refute this contention arguing that the LDF would be called to account for its "failure on all vital fronts."


(Agencies)