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Campaign for LS polls ends in Kerala

Campaign for LS polls ends in Kerala

Thiruvananthapuram: A gruelling campaign for April 10 Lok Sabha elections ended Tuesday with top national leaders raising the battle to a feverish pitch in the final lap as Congress-led UDF and CPI(M)-led LDF are locked in a fierce combat in all 20 seats across the state.

Road shows and street-corner meetings took place in every cranny of the state till the dying moments of the deadline set for electioneering.

BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and party stalwart L K Advani addressed meetings in northernmost Kasargode and the state capital in down south on the final day as the party is trying hard to make the 'Lotus' bloom in the state.

The just over a month-long campaign remained violence-free but for minor charges and counter-charges of model code violations by some candidates.

The mercury dipped in the final hours of the electioneering in many parts with summer showers bringing relief from scorching heat under which most part of the campaiging had taken place since the polls were announced on March 5.

In UDF, the Congress is contesting 15 seats, IUML two, Kerala Congress, Socialist Janata Democratic (SJD) and RSP one each.

RSP had crossed over to UDF when just a few days were left for the filing of nominations, pulling out of LDF over the denial of a seat to it.

The candidates in fray include six Union Ministers -- Shashi Tharoor, Kodikunnil Suresh, K C Venugopal, K V Thomas, Mullapally Ramachandran (all Congress) and E Ahamed (IUML).

Sitting MPs of CPI(M)--A Sampath, M B Rajesh, P K Biju and P Karunakaran--are seeking a fresh mandate from the same constituencies that they had won in 2009.

High-profile UDF contestants include former Union Minister M P Veerendrakumar, battling against Rajesh in CPI(M) bastion in Palakkad.

Prominent LDF candidates seeking their electoral fortunes includes CPI(M) politbureau member and former state minister M A Baby, taking on N K Premachandran of RSP in Kollam.

LDF has fielded five independents, including veteran cine actor Innocent in Chalakkudi, pitted against Congress heavyweight P C Chacko.

BJP has put its best hope on former union minister O Rajagopal who is giving a fight to Tharoor of Congress and Bennet Abraham of CPI in Thiruvananthapuram.

Though a persistent loser in Kerala's bipolar scenario, BJP has put up contestants across the state and has made the fight a three-horse race at least in the state capital.

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