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Barisan Nasional mounts big campaign to win back the state

Kelantan is the main target. Umno and its Barisan Nasional partners are laying siege to the East Coast state that has been under PAS rule for the past 18 years.

In this general election, the battle will be for 20 state seats that both sides have listed as marginal, where the majorities in the 2004 polls were less than 1,000 votes. There are 45 state constituencies.

Kelantan Barisan head Datuk Annuar Musa revealed that the coalition would intensify its psychological war to capture the crucial marginal seats

This campaign is expected to gain further momentum with the visit of Barisan chief Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi today.

His full day of events comes two days after his deputy Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak spent over 24 hours in Kelantan.

Najib not only took aim at PAS, but was also there to put a stop to the in-fighting among Umno members that had scuttled past efforts to unseat PAS.

“There should not be ‘your people’ and ‘my people’ in Umno. I don’t want to hear such talk. There are only Umno people in the Barisan,” he said on Wednesday.

Abdullah is expected to repeat the message today and will seek to galvanise the Umno grassroots and leaders into focusing on defeating PAS.

From independence, Kelantan was ruled by the Barisan and its predecessor, the Alliance, for only 12 years. During the other 38, PAS or its then ally Berjasa was in control.

Annuar, who is expecting to change it this year, said the Barisan’s trump card was the Kelantan manifesto, to be launched on Saturday, in which the coalition promises to lower assessment rates and give tax breaks and incentives for businesses.

The Islamist party on its part has fortified its seats and looked at the gain of the state constituency of Kijang on nomination day as a good omen of its chances of fending off the Barisan.

PAS vice-president Datuk Husam Musa declared in his daily media briefing yesterday, that it was impossible for the Barisan to win because “the groundswell favours us.”

“However, we are prepared for Barisan if it steps up its campaign. We have our plans to counter that.”

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