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Will NASA leaders succeed in eating into Jubilee strongholds?

POLITICS
By Allan Mungai | March 7th 2017
NASA's Kalonzo Musyoka and Moses Wetang'ula address residents of Isiolo town. (Photo: Dennis Kavisu/Standard)

The National Super Alliance (NASA) is crossing its fingers that its forays into disgruntled perceived Jubilee strongholds will pay dividends.

Having failed to make an impression in previous elections, the NASA outfit will be counting on unfulfilled promises by the Jubilee government to the Meru people to storm into the heart of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s backyard.

The new Opposition alliance has not hidden its desire to endear itself to residents of Mt Kenya East (Meru, Tharaka Nithi and Embu), who have recently displayed open defiance towards the Jubilee government.

Since the turn of the year, the NASA brigade led by ODM leader Raila Odinga has been in the region three times and been buoyed by large turnouts.

CHARM OFFENSIVE

Indeed, NASA’s forays into a region that voted overwhelmingly for the ruling Jubilee coalition in 2013 is causing concern, especially the effort to worm their way into the hearts of disenfranchised miraa farmers affected by a sale ban in key markets of the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.

Immediately after signing the pact to formally establish NASA and staging a massive rally in Eldoret, Raila, Moses Wetang’ula (Ford-Kenya), Musalia Mudavadi (Amani National Congress) and Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper) renewed their efforts to charm Mt Kenya East.

In the 2013 General Election, Raila managed close to 40,000 votes in the two counties against the President’s 500,000. NASA is eyeing a larger portion of the region’s vote.

But while they managed to pull huge crowds during their two-day rallies, Jubilee stalwarts like Senator Kiraitu Murungi, North Imenti MP Rahim Dawood and Muthomi Njuki (Chuka/Igambang’ombe) are sceptical of NASA’s ability to translate the crowds into votes.

The legislators have faulted NASA’s focus on what Jubilee has not done instead of providing solutions to the problems hounding the region.

“Raila is trying to incite the crowds against the Government but his empty rhetoric will not take him anywhere. He does not provide concrete solutions,” Kiraitu said, touching on the miraa issue.

KEY FIGURE

However, the senator, who is a key figure in Jubilee, yesterday contended that there were still pledges the Government had not delivered, although he blamed that on state bureaucracy.

Kiraitu extended calls to Jubilee leaders to visit the county to fight the NASA wave.

Mt Kenya Youth Caucus Chairman Linford Mutembei agreed with Kiraitu. The youth leader believes that despite the grand reception, NASA does not hold sway in Meru.

However, he did not discount the possibility of the Opposition outfit securing some parliamentary seats.

“Crowds do not necessarily translate into votes and what is certain is that Meru will vote in a Jubilee president,” said Mr Mutembei.

Mr Njuki, the Chuka/Igambang’ombe MP, however said that it would be necessary for Jubilee Party leaders Uhuru and William Ruto to plan their own visits to undo any progress NASA was making in the region.

“I think what NASA are up to is futile but JP should not take it for granted, especially seeing that they have increased the frequency of their visits. Uhuru and Ruto should plan counter rallies”, Njuki told The Standard.

Mr Linturi said until Jubilee delivered on the pledges made to Meru, they would use their vote to bargain with any presidential candidate.

Political observers believe NASA’s bid to make inroads in the region is fuelled by apparent discord in Jubilee involving key political figures in Meru, and might just yield fruit.

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