In a bid to make inroads in central Kenya, ODM has fielded gospel musician Christopher Kiruta to vie for the Mathira parliamentary seat in Nyeri County.
The area happens to be the heart of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Mount Kenya stronghold.
In the 2013 General Election, ODM party leader and presidential candidate Raila Odinga — now Nasa coalition flag-bearer — garnered 5,638 votes in Nyeri as President Kenyatta got close to 320,000.
Mr Odinga got 339 votes in Tetu Constituency, 2,145 in Nyeri Town, 424 in Othaya, 368 in Mukurweini, 991 in Mathira and 1,371 in Kieni.
Mr Kiruta, 43, believes Mr Odinga will get more votes this time round, saying voters are sharper and have matured democratically.
He argued that “residents are frustrated” because the Jubilee government had not met their expectations in terms of development.
The Orange candidate is also certain that he will outdo his rivals — including the incumbent Mr Peter Weru, who is defending the seat as independent candidate, Jubilee Party’s Rigathi Gachagua and businesswoman Wambura Maranga, an independent.
The battle for the MP seat has narrowed down to the three, with Mr Kiruta having grabbed the attention of the majority for vying on an opposition party in a Jubilee stronghold.
The other candidates are Ms Nancy Wanjiku Murage of Democratic Party, Narc-Kenya’s Peter Warutere Thinwa and independents Phenansio Thuku and Naftali Wanjohi.
Mr Kiruta bets on the notion that Nyeri voters do not elect leaders on the basis of political party affiliation but individual strategies and policies.
“Since I began my campaigns about five months ago, I have not met any form of hostility and residents are very accommodative,” Mr Kiruta said, denying claims that he has been paid to test the waters for the Opposition.
As he makes a second stab at the seat, having unsuccessfully vied in 2007 on a Kanu ticket and lost to Mr Ephraim Maina, Mr Kiruta said Mr Odinga’s “manifesto aims at strengthening local residents economically”.
“He understands our needs and, this time, he will get a good share of the votes,” Mr Kiruta adds.