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Kerala local body polls litmus test for Left

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Thiruvananthapuram: The upcoming three-tier local body elections in Kerala will be a litmus test for the Left which has been on a steady decline since winning the assembly elections in 2006.

It is now going to be a decade since the Left Democratic Front (LDF) led by the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) won the local body polls in Kerala, a state it considers its bastion.

The polls will take place on November 2 and 5. The results will be out on November 7.

After winning the 2006 assembly polls, the LDF has ended up on the losing side in every electoral battle in the state.

It was washed out in the 2009 Lok Sabha battle, quickly followed by three losses in assembly by-elections.

The shocker came in 2010 when for the first time in years, the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) trounced the LDF and secured close to 65 percent of the local bodies.

The Left also lost the 2011 assembly polls to the UDF but narrowly.

The UDF won two by-elections in 2012. And in the 2014 Lok Sabha election, Kerala elected the second largest contingent of Congress MPs in the country after Karnataka.

Again, this year, despite various scams, the UDF won the Aruvikara assembly by-election. And with most people feeling that the Left may be in for a shock in next year’s assembly elections, the local body polls are considered very important.

Another reason that has caused a hiccup in the Left camp is the meeting in New Delhi last week between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and V Natesan, the Hindu Ezhava leader and general secretary of the powerful Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana (SNDP) Sangom that owes allegiance to social reformer Sree Narayana Guru.

For years, a major portion of the Ezhava community has always stood by the CPI-M.

“Electoral politics means numbers. With the SNDP moving closer to the BJP, the Hindu vote is going to be split and the Left is going to be hit badly. The BJP will gain. This will benefit the UDF,” said a political analyst who did not wish to be identified.

Naturally, the CPI-M has launched an attack on Natesan.

Former chief minister VS Achuthanandan has raked up corruption allegations against Natesan. CPI-M state secretary K Balakrishnan asked Natesan not to use Narayana Guru’s name to promote his political ambitions.

Natesan has made it clear that the SNDP will take the lead in uniting the various Hindu social and religious groups under one umbrella.

“I don’t know why the CPI-M is feeling restless. You wait and see what’s going to unfold. Something will be there for sure ahead of the assembly elections,” he said.

In the local body elections, 21,871 seats spread out in 941 village, 152 block and 14 district panchayats besides 86 municipalities and six corporations will be up for grab.

 

(Sanu George, IANS)

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Northern Kerala to Soon Emerge as Major Tourist Attraction

The department has pumped in almost Rs 500 crore in the area for tourism and infrastructure development

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Northern Kerala to Soon Emerge as Major Tourist Attraction
Northern Kerala to Soon Emerge as Major Tourist Attraction. IANS

Are Kovalam and backwaters the first things that come to mind when thinking of Kerala? All that’s set to change as more places will soon be added to the bucket list from ‘God’s own country’ — at an outlay of Rs 500 crore.

The Kerala Tourism Department is taking new initiatives and expanding its horizons, not just in the southern belt but also the northern zone with new “must visit” destinations.

“Kerala has seen a strong tourism sector since two decades and we have been doing well domestically and internationally.

“We are starting new destinations in different geographical areas. We are widening our canvas and including new destinations,” P. Bala Kiran, Director, Kerala Tourism told IANS.

He added that the northern parts of the state like Wayanad, Kannur, Kozhikode, Thissur, Malapuram and Palakad are on the list of new tourism destinations.

“This will be a separate circuit which will be complementing the existing tourism circuit in south Kerala,” Kiran stated.

Representational image.
Representational image. Pixabay

While the peak season for visiting the state is mainly November to February, the Tourism Department is also chalking out plans to attract tourists round the year.

And for that, the department has pumped in almost Rs 500 crore in the area for tourism and infrastructure development.

“We are also planning out new ventures like introducing river cruise facility in Malabar, making a Kameshwari heritage project, Jatayu Earth Centre which will feature world’s largest bird sculpture and offering plethora of adventure and rejuvenating activities and others,” Bala noted.

The department is also focusing on alluring young tourists by offering multiple adventure activities — water-based sports like river rafting and kayaking as also trekking, paragliding.

Recently, Kerala also bagged ‘Best destination for families’ award through an online poll which was conducted by Lonely Planet magazine.

Bala added in the past one year, Kerala has witnessed tremendous growth in tourist arrivals — both domestic and internatinal.

Also Read: Infosys Donates Rs 2.50cr To A Hospital in Kerala

“In 2017 we had 1.09 million international tourists and 14.6 million domestic tourists which is roughly translating into a growth of 11 per cent in the last year,” he added.

Asked about the major challenges being faced by the Tourism Department, Bala pointed out that ensuring safety and security of tourists were the first priority followed by providing world class amenities to the visitors and streamlining the waste management system.

“Kerala government is setting up a Tourism Regulatory Authority which will be a statutory body with full legal powers to intervene and execute orders whenever there are complaints on tourist-related activities,” Bala noted. (IANS)

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