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Small parties gain importance in Kerala as election come closer

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Thiruvananthapuram: With assembly elections round the corner, small political parties in Kerala have begun scrambling for their place in the sun. During elections, they punch much beyond their weight, though remaining irrelevant most of the other times.

Those that would see a rejuvenation in the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF), at least in their efforts to attract attention, include the Janathiyapathiya Samreskhena Samithi (JSS) and the Communist Marxist Party (CMP), both of which have split vertically in the last one year, with rival factions of each moving towards the CPI-M led Left Democratic Front( LDF).

But the going is not likely to be easy. Neither of these parties has any representation in the assembly, even after the JSS contested four seats and the CMP three in the 2011 assembly polls.

KK Shaju, who is in the JSS faction in the ruling UDF, said that he had been told by the coalition that it would be difficult to give JSS seats.

“They have said that a seat for me could be considered, but the catch is that I have to join the Congress,” Shaju, who won twice earlier but had lost in the 2011 polls, told IANS.

The CMP floated by former veteran CPI-M leader MV Raghavan, a state minister in the earlier UDF cabinet, saw a split in the party after Raghavan passed away in 2014.

In 2011, the CMP was given three seats but lost all of them, including Raghavan’s. The party now is led by State Planning Board member CP John, who too lost in the 2011 polls.

Another party — Kerala Congress (Pillai) — led by R Balakrishna Pillai — a former minister and one of the founders of the UDF in the early eighties, was given two seats to contest in 2011. It won one. Early this year, following difference with the UDF, the party moved out. But it has not been taken in by the Left Democratic Front (LDF), the other major alliance in the state.

Six-time legislator PC George, who lost his legislatorship last month for defying a directive of his party (Kerala Congress-Mani, an ally of the UDF), has revived his Kerala Congress (Secular). But it is doubtful if he would be accommodated as an ally in the LDF.

“To win in my Poonjar constituency, I do not need the support of anyone, but since I will remain only a legislator, I may not contest this time,” remarked George, who recently met CPI-M politburo member Pinarayi Vijayan but did not get any assurance.

In the LDF, the smaller parties also include the Indian National League which was given three seats to contest last time and the Congress-S that got one seat. Neither of them could win.

Fearing what they perceive would be shoddy treatment by the Congress party leadership in Kerala, the allies of the UDF had expressed their fears to party president Sonia Gandhi earlier this week when she was on a one-day visit to the state. They said they should be “treated with respect” when seat distribution talks begin.

“We told her that there should be a fair distribution of seats,” said former legislator and Kerala Congress (Jacob) party leader Johnny Nellore, who last won the polls in 2001.

The lone legislator of his party, Anup Jacob, is the State Minister for Food and Civil Supplies.

A senior leader, who did not want to be named summed up the dilemma: “The small parties are the bane of the fronts. They dominate when the margin between the rival fronts is close. Even a single party legislator has to be made a minister.They win with the votes of the majority party, but run their portfolio as their personal fiefdom.”

There are eight parties in the UDF while the LDF has six with George’s and Pillai’s parties in neither of the fronts.(Sanu George, IANS)

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Facts That Will Amaze You About Kerala’s Jatayu National Park

The Jatayun National Park is designed by Rajiv Anchal and is about 38 km away from Kollam and 46 km away from Thiruvananthapuram.

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Jatayu is believed to be a symbol of valour and chivalry. Wikimedia Commons
Jatayu is believed to be a symbol of valour and chivalry. Wikimedia Commons
  • On 5th December 2017, The Jatayu Nature Park became partially operational by the inauguration of Adventure Rock Hill
  • The giant concrete sculpture of Jatayu is built on a mighty rock named Jatayupara
  • This rock theme park will be a treat to the eyes as well as the sense of adventure for the tourists

Jatayu Nature Park is a tourism centre at Chadayamangalam in Kollam district of Kerala. It holds the distinction of having the world’s largest bird sculpture and is one of the best Kerala tourist places. On 5th December 2017, The park became partially operational by the inauguration of Adventure Rock Hill. The structure is designed by Rajiv Anchal and is about 38 km away from Kollam and 46 km away from Thiruvananthapuram.

The giant concrete sculpture of Jatayu is built on a mighty rock named Jatayupara (Jatayu is the name of the bird and para means rock in Malayalam). As per Hindu mythology, when Ravana was abducting Sita Mata to Lanka, Jatayu intervened to rescue Sita Mata. During the clash, Jatayu fought valiantly with Ravana but in the end, Ravana got the better of Jatayu. While searching for Sita Mata, Rama and Lakshmana chanced upon the stricken and dying Jatayu, who informs them about the abduction by Ravana. Thus Jatayu Earth’s Center is conceptualized with environmental protection and ecological equilibrium.

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It is said that Jatayu fell on the rocks in Chadayamangalam after his wings were chopped off by Ravana.

The giant concrete sculpture of Jatayu is built on a mighty rock named Jatayupara. Wikimedia Commons
The giant concrete sculpture of Jatayu is built on a mighty rock named Jatayupara. Wikimedia Commons

The mastermind behind this structure is a renowned film director, art director and sculptor Mr.Rajiv Anchal. He along with his team took about ten years to meticulously design and completes this monumental project. The project is the first joint effort by the Tourism Department of Kerala and Mr Rajiv Anchal to create a unique tourist destination which offers almost all aspects of Kerala tourism. The land on which Jatayu Nature Park is been constructed is leased by Guruchandrika Builders and Property Pvt. Ltd. from the government for 30 years to build and operate.

This rock theme park will be a treat to the eyes as well as the sense of adventure for the tourists. Jatayu Nature Park is designed on a BOT (build-operate-transfer) model.

Dazzling Location

Jatayu Earth’s Center tourism is spread over 65 acres of the multi-terrain landscape at Jatayupara near Kollam district of Kerala. The structure is 1000 feet above sea level and has diverse geographic features ranging from hills, valleys, rugged rocks, caves to cultivable lands. The destination is right at the centre of south Kerala and is easily accessible. The nearest international airport, Trivandrum, is only 50 km away from the location.

Sustainable Tourism

Jatayu Earth’s Center is an apt example of sustainable and eco-friendly tourism in India. The hills, valleys, caves and vegetation spread across 65 acres remain almost unaffected even though a tourist destination. It is believed that the Jatayu sculpture stands as a guardian to the hills and rocks by protects them from everything. Hence, the name is quite suitable for this project.

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One of the tasks to build the structure was the uninterrupted availability of water source because due to multi-terrain location, it was really tough to find enough resource for water. But after a thorough search, a check dam was constructed between two rock valleys with a capacity of twenty lakhs litres for water conservation. Thus, the water issue was instantly solved by storing the rainwater and using it throughout the year. Then the electricity required for the project was domestically harnessed from solar power.

Jatayu Earth’s Center is an apt example of sustainable and eco-friendly tourism in India. Wikimedia Commons
Jatayu Earth’s Center is an apt example of sustainable and eco-friendly tourism in India. Wikimedia Commons

All along the location, a planned agricultural society is formed to promote organic farming. Hence, visitors will be able to buy fresh products from these farms.

Paradigm of courage

Jatayu is believed to be a symbol of valour and chivalry. Risking his life, Jatayu tried his best to save Sita Mata from her Ravana. Hence, the Jatayu sculpture stands as a towering tribute to women’s safety and honour. Jatayu depicts the period when humans, animals and birds cared for each other as fellow beings and lived in peace on this Earth.

Rajiv Anchal concludes that the structure symbolism has great relevance in today’s social scenario since the crime rate against women is on a high. Each visitor at Jatayu National Park is expected to understand and follow the inner essence of this inspiring creation.

As per Hindu mythology, when Ravana was abducting Sita Mata to Lanka, Jatayu intervened to rescue Sita Mata. Wikimedia Commons
As per Hindu mythology, when Ravana was abducting Sita Mata to Lanka, Jatayu intervened to rescue Sita Mata. Wikimedia Commons

Take a look at some of the listed facts of Jatayu National Park.

  1. The tourist park sprawls over 65 acres of land and is home to a giant sculpture of Jatayu. The herculean dimensions of the great mythical bird Jatayu goes 200 feet long, 150 feet broad, 70 feet in height and has 15,000 square feet.
  2. The sculpture is constructed at the same spot where Jatayu is said to take his last breath. Locals believe that the mythical bird fell on the rock after being struck down by Ravana.
  1. The bird sculpture will also house a 6D theatre and an audio-visual based digital museum inside it. It is done so that people will get a glimpse of Ramayana. Visitors would also be able to cherish the bird’s eye view experience from 1,000 feet above the sea level, from inside the sculpture.
  2. The sculpture has been designed and developed by a Malayalam film director, Rajiv Anchal. He is a renowned filmmaker and sculptor. Apparently, he is also the Chairman and Managing Director of Guruchandrika Builders and Property Private Limited.

In an interview with ‘The Indian Express’, he said, “It took us seven years to build the sculpture. It is basically a concrete structure that has been given a stone finish. Building it has been a major struggle as the terrain was hard and we had to carry all the materials to the top.”

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  1. The Jatayu Nature Park will also have an adventure zone and about 20 games centre. The adventure field in the park will include activities like paintball, laser tag, archery, rifle shooting, rock climbing, and bouldering. The place will also house ayurvedic cave resorts.