Munnar: The hill town woke up to an extra-red sunrise on Sunday. Much before chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan reached the election meeting venue at Old Munnar by about 10.15 am, people had packed into more than 5,000 chairs.
Slogans of support echoed in both Malayalam and Tamil in this border town. The crowd chanted the names of the chief minister and the LDF candidate. Red flags, festoons and balloons filled the town. Plantation labourers kept pouring into the town in jeeps decked with red flags of the CPM.
The chief minister had checked into the Tea County Hotel in Munnar on Saturday evening. Accompanied by minister M M Mani, Pinarayi walked on to the stage. The dais and the audience stood up for a minute to pay homage to the late trade union leader C A Kurian before the meeting started.
As usual, Pinarayi was thrifty with words, but he covered all grounds in his brief speech. He listed out the achievements of his government, highlighted the poll promises and lashed out at the opponents in the United Democratic Front. The people were excited by the speech. He summed it up with a direct appeal to vote for the LDF candidate, A Raja, before proceeding to the next campaign venue.
At Cheruthoni in the Idukki constituency, former MP Joyce George was in the middle of an energised public speech when Pinarayi walked on to the dais. Thousands of people in the audience parted way for the chief minister who walked up to the stage accompanied by the “red volunteers” and the band players. Slogans rent the air.
Minister M M Mani and LDF candidate Roshy Augustine also accompanied the chief minister. Women workers of the CPM let red balloons up into the air.
Pinarayi wasted no time greeting the leaders on the stage. He commenced the speech right away. The crowd braved the summer heat to listen out to the chief minister, finding a spot wherever they could, on the Cheruthoni bridge and even on the state highway. As soon as the chief minister finished his speech, the crowd started to disperse, prompting the organisers to wind up the meeting.
Pinarayi reached Nedumkandom by 3 pm. Just a mention of the manifesto elicited excited applause from the audience. As the excitement grew into a crescendo, Pinarayi requested the crowd to listen out to him without creating a ruckus. “Please don’t create a ruckus. Be calm and stay where you are,” he said.
That was enough to calm the crowd. From Nedumkandam, the star campaigner and his team proceeded to Peerumede. The contents of the speech remained more or less the same. So did the excitement of the audience. He ended the speech with an appeal to vote for LDF candidate Vazhoor Soman.
The chief minister said that the LDF would give priority to addressing the land-related problems of Idukki. He said that the LDF policy included an amendment to land laws. The front has already promised to amend the laws of 1964 and 1993. Pinarayi said that the process was already set in motion. He said that would end the land-related woes of Idukki.
He said that the LDF plan was to give employment to 40 lakh people in the next five years. The LDF government would fix a minimum support price of Rs 250 for rubber. He also said that his government would build houses for 5 lakh families in the next five years.
He said that Congress and the BJP were implementing development policies based on globalisation. The LDF, on the other hand, was striving to lift the poorest of the poor above the poverty line.