In the sweltering heat, he gets out of his autorickshaw and walks to the shade of a jackfruit tree, wiping the sweat off his brows. His khaki shirt is soaked. Since morning, K.Y. Baby has been busy putting up CPI(M) flags and posters for the much-awaited meeting in the evening in the heart of Pathanamthitta town. The constituency has drawn national attention since the Supreme Court verdict allowing women under 50 to the Sabarimala temple.
The Congress-led UDF’s MP Anto Antony, the CPI(M)-led LDF’s MLA Veena George and senior BJP leader K. Surendran are all out there, campaigning. While many feel Pathanamthitta is the BJP’s only chance to open its Kerala account in the Lok Sabha elections, workers of all three parties claim victory in this constituency where communal sensibilities could conflict with party loyalties. Baby, a staunch CPM worker for three decades, believes his party will turn the tables on its rivals. “Pathanamthitta hasn’t been our party’s stronghold, but this time it will be different,” says the 57-year-old. “Veena is our best bet. She has performed well as an MLA.” In the assembly, Veena, a former journalist, represents Aranmula, which is within the Pathanamthitta constituency.