Thiruvananthapuram: As the campaign pitch hots up for the June 27 Aruvikkara bypoll, the main contenders are locked in a strident war of words with the latest salvo coming from Congress, which described Left veteran VS Achuthanandan as a "sacrificial goat" and "traitor" of CPI-M.
Kerala Congress President VM Sudheeran has described the CPI-M veteran as a "sacrificial goat".
"VS is like a sacrificial goat which is fed, fattened and paraded around by his party just before it is butchered," Sudheeran said during campaigning.
Further, senior Congress leader and former Defence Minister, AK Antony, who is in Aruvikkara since yesterday, said that Achuthanandan was being dismissive of the achievements of the UDF government as he was "jealous".
Antony said CPI-M considers Achuthanandan a "traitor" and that there was no knowing what his fate would be after the elections. He had earlier lavished praises on the Oommen Chandy government, saying he would give it an 'A Plus' for its achievements.
That remark had invited a dig from Achuthanandan, who had said he would in fact give an 'A' certificate to the Chandy government given the alleged close links of some of its ministers with solar scam accused Saritha Nair.
On the campaign trail, the 92-year-old CPI-M leader is drawing huge crowds with his inimitable oratory, something that seems to have unnerved UDF, which is striving to ensure victory for the Congress's electoral debutant KS Sabarimath, son of former Assembly Speaker G Karthikeyan, whose death necessitated the bypoll.
Taking him on is LDF candidate M Vijaykumar, a former Assembly speaker and minister.
Pepping up the campaign are Malayalam film actors Suresh Gopi and Innocent, the LDF-supported Independent MP, who are busy campaigning for BJP and LDF, respectively.
Chandy, who has said that the bypoll verdict would be a referendum on his government, is also actively involved in campaigning.
As for CPI-M, its former state secretary, Pinarayi Vijayan, is leading door-to-door visits, but rarely seen delivering public speeches.
The contest is a triangular one for the Aruvikkara bypoll with former Union Minister O Rajagopal looking to win the seat for BJP.