Kerala Assembly polls | Line-up, campaign themes hog the limelight

Some of the most intense battles are fought in the southernmost part of the district

Given the line-up in many segments and the way the campaign is shaping up, some of the most intense electoral battles in the Assembly elections are fought in the southernmost part of the district.

Nemom and Kazhakuttam remain in the spotlight as the three major fronts are locked in intense contests there. Retaining Nemom, which O. Rajagopal wrested for the party in 2016, is perhaps as important for the BJP as increasing the number of MLAs. The task of retaining the constituency for the party is now on Kummanam Rajasekharan. While the Left Democratic Front is banking on former MLA V. Sivankutty, the United Democratic Front’s eleventh-hour decision to field Congress MP K. Muraleedharan has raised the Nemom fight to a high pedestal.

The contest for Kazhakuttam, where the LDF triumphed in 2016, is seen as a test of the sharpness of the Sabarimala controversy as a poll weapon when LDF’s Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran and BJP State vice president Sobha Surendran face off. The UDF’s choice, public health expert S.S. Lal, adds an interesting element to the fight there.

10 out 14 in LDF kitty

The LDF holds 10 of the 14 segments in the district, having upped its 2016 tally by one in the October 2019 bypoll when it wrested Vattiyurkavu from the UDF. The other nine LDF seats are Varkala, Attingal, Vamanapuram, Kazhakuttam, Parassala, Kattakada, Neyyattinkara, Chirayinkeezhu and Nedumangad. The UDF tally is down to three, Thiruvananthapuram, Aruvikkara and Kovalam, while the BJP has Nemom. Eleven sitting MLAs, eight of the LDF and three of the UDF, are in the fray this time.

Reclaiming Vattiyurkavu is matter of prestige for the UDF, but whether CPI(M)’s V.K. Prasanth, who is seeking a second term, can be dislodged remains to be seen. The BJP is playing for high stakes here, having fielded its district president and city councillor V.V. Rajesh.

In Kovalam, the battle between Janata Dal (Secular) veteran A. Neelalohithadasan Nadar and incumbent Congress MLA M. Vincent is eagerly watched. In Varkala, Vamanapuram and Chirayinkeezhu, sitting MLAs V. Joy and D.K. Murali of the CPI(M) and V. Sasi of the CPI respectively are seeking another term.

Film actor in the fray

In Thiruvananthapuram, Congress MLA and former Minister V.S. Sivakumar is facing old rival LDF’s Antony Raju. The BJP is hoping to spring a surprise here with film actor Krishnakumar G. Congress MLA K.S. Sabarinadhan is seeking another term from Aruvikkara where the CPI(M) has fielded G. Stephen.

In Kattakada, former BJP State president P.K. Krishnadas is pitted against incumbent CPI(M) MLA I.B. Satheesh. This time, the CPI(M) has fielded O.S. Ambika in Attingal, where she is facing RSP’s A. Sreedharan and P. Sudheer of the BJP. It is up to G.R. Anil, the current CPI district secretary, to defend Nedumangad. He is up against J.R. Padmakumar of the BJP and P.S. Prasanth of the Congress. In his fight for another term, Parassala MLA C.K. Hareendran of the CPI(M) is battling Ansajitha Russell R.K. of the Congress and BJP’s Karamana Jayan.

With just days left for the April 6 polls, the election scene has been shaken by allegations of large-scale discrepancies on the electoral rolls and simmering tensions between CPI(M) and BJP cadres in Kattakada and Kazhakuttam. The UDF has complained to the Election Commission of hundreds of multiple/bogus voters in Nemom, Thiruvananthapuram, Vattiyurkavu and Kazhakuttam. The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance too has raised similar complaints.

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