What has the BJP done for the South?

The paryadanam (circuit) has been going quite well. We go through alleys and side roads and we always run out of time before we have reached the last point. I will have to do a ‘catch-up’ at the end of the paryadanam to go to all the places we have missed so far. The challenge ahead of us is to reach every nook and cranny of the constituency, as much as possible, to show them that you are there to see them and they are free to see you. And of course it energises party workers, who have to go out and bring out the votes. That is why it is so important to do it.

I remember when I came in 2009, the paryadanam was just one day per Assembly segment, that is seven days. This time, it is two days per Assembly segment, which is one per block, and even then we are not finishing in time.

Who are your core voters and what do you think they expect from you after 15 years?

My core voters are everybody. I have essentially been winning because, for whatever it is worth, my appeal seems to cut across gender, religious and community affiliations. I have votes in the tribal belt, in Technopark, in the fisherfolk community and amongst the elite. That’s the way it should be, as once I am elected, I am everybody’s MP. To me, my job is to serve them all.

I certainly think they want a continuation of service. I have been available and pursuing their various demands and requests and trying to use my development funds intelligently. I was probably among the biggest victims of the two-year cut-off of development funds by the Union government using Covid as an excuse.

Whatever was in my account, I spent on essential Covid supplies when the lockdown was announced. That became a huge talking point at the time. Even Pinarayi Vijayan, the chief minister from an opposing party, praised me on television for what I had done.

The fact is that I have been here through good times and bad, seen people through crises. I was on the spot and active during Cyclone Ockhi and at the same time, I have been an effective voice for them in Parliament. I have spoken on issues affecting the coastal community, sea erosion, fisherfolk’s livelihood, and I am proud to say that there is no MP of any other party who has spoken on these issues as much as I have. I have tried to bring these issues to the attention of the highest levels of government.

Obviously, the best scenario would be if we come to power ourselves, as then we can deliver a lot of things ourselves, rather than merely requesting a party that may not be sympathetic to the causes we are espousing.

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