Onmanorama's weekly election bulletin - Kerala Poll Buzz - is packed with analytical pieces, curated stories, social media buzz, statistics and political cartoons to keep you up-to-date with all the political developments from the south Indian state that will go to polling booths on April 6. Send your suggestions and queries to: firstname.lastname@example.org
A striking feature of all the election manifestos released in Kerala last week is their stress on welfare measures.
The Left Democratic Front (LDF), which aims to retain power for a second term, promises to increase the monthly welfare pension from Rs 1,600 to Rs 2,500. It promises to widen the pension net to include 60 lakh persons and offers free and modern housing to all homeless people from Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe communities.
The United Democratic Front’s (UDF) thrust is on the implementation of Rahul Gandhi’s pet project, Nyuntam Aay Yojana, or NYAY scheme.
The scheme promises a monthly payment of 6,000 to all poor families in the state (Rs 72,000 a year), which, according to the UDF, will eradicate poverty from the state and provide much-needed support to people who lost everything due to floods and the COVID-19 pandemic.
The UDF also promises to pay Rs 2,000 to all unemployed women between the ages of 40 and 60 and increase the monthly welfare pension to Rs 3,000.
The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) promises to hike the monthly welfare pension to Rs 3,500. It also offers a monthly ex-gratia of Rs 5,000 to families whose sole bread-winners are unable to work due to ill-health.
The political parties seem to have realised the importance of welfare schemes after the LDF’s unexpected performance in the local body polls in 2020.
The election was held at a time when the LDF government faced a host of corruption allegations related to gold smuggling and irregularities in the Life Mission housing scheme. But the LDF weathered the storm and pulled off a stupendous victory. Experts had noted that voters supported the government for its efficient distribution of welfare pension and food kits during the difficult period of the pandemic, and they cared less about the allegations.
All the political parties have now taken a leaf out of the LDF victory to woo voters.
But they should remember that people will continue to support only those who keep their promises. So the onus is on the winning coalition to implement their welfare promises with due diligence.
...There is more to the story
My colleague G Ragesh, who followed Rahul Gandhi’s trip in south Kerala, notes that the Congress leader waxed eloquent about the NYAY scheme in all his meetings.
“Everywhere he spoke, Rahul gave great importance to the Nyuntam Aay Yojana (NYAY), his pet project assuring minimum income guarantee, which could not be implemented as Congress failed to come to power at the Centre in 2019.
In Kerala, NYAY – the scheme ensuring Rs 72,000 direct transfer to the poorest in a year – is at the centre of the Congress-led UDF manifesto.
“One thing I want to tell you, if our government comes to power, we will put money directly into your pockets,” Rahul said at the beginning of his speeches. He went on to explain how the scheme would spur spending and thus more production and job creation.
“This is not any service or gift. It's your right,” he told the crowds that had been waiting for him, under the sun at some spots and late into the night in other places.
At Pala, where he campaigned for Mani C Kappen, Rahul likened Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to a driver who tries to start a car without fuel. He was referring to the economic crisis the state is facing. Rahul did not mention the corruption charges against the state government. The point he wanted to stress that the Pinarayi Vijayan government was not humane enough.”
Ground stories, analyses, interviews and video stories from Onmanorama reporters
1. Read these three reports by T A Ameerudheen to get a clear picture of the tough fight in the Manjeswram constituency in Kasaragod district.
• The first story delves into the expected consolidation of votes on religious lines.
• The second story looks into the strategies adopted by Indian Union Muslim League and BJP to win the election.
• The top three contenders share their thoughts in the third story.
4. Sasikumar Varma, who is president of the Pandalam Palace Management Committee and the senior male member of the erstwhile Pandalam royal family, tells R Ayyappan that government will usurp the family’s token parental rights over Lord Ayyappa.
5. G Ragesh travels to Muvattupuzha where Congress leader Mathew Kuzhalnadan is taking on CPI’s Eldo Abraham.
CPM shares Kerala Congress’s causes, Jose K Mani tells G Ragesh in this video interview.
Onmanorama reporters and editors analyse the scenarios in key constituencies
2. Ajish Jimmy George and G Ragesh analyse the fight in Tripunithura in Ernakulam district
Curated Poll Stories