Stretching from the coast to the highlands, the Attingal Lok Sabha constituency, covering almost three-fourths of the district, is gearing up for a high-voltage campaign.
The battle lines emerged on Thursday after the United Democratic Front (UDF) announced Mahila Congress State president Bindu Krishna as its nominee to take on sitting MP A. Sampath of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), who entered the fray much earlier. The Attingal constituency came into existence in 2008 after the dissolution of the Chirayinkeezhu constituency and a reshuffle of the Assembly segments.
Mr. Sampath, who had won the Chirayinkeezhu seat in 1996, repeated his performance from Attingal in the 2009 elections. His links with the constituency go back to the days when his father K. Anirudhan routed Congress stalwart R. Sankar in a historic victory way back in 1967.
Since then, Chirayinkeezhu had favoured the Congress till the early nineties. While Vayalar Ravi won the seat in 1971 and 1977, Thalekkunnil Basheer continued the winning streak in 1984 and 1989. But since 1991, when Suseela Gopalan of the CPI(M) wrested the seat from the Congress, the constituency has remained an LDF bastion. While Mr. Sampath won in 1996 and 2009, Varkala Radhakrishnan claimed a hat-trick by emerging the victor in the 1998, 1999 and 2004 elections.
There are seven Assembly segments in the Attingal Lok Sabha constituency, namely Varkala, Attingal, Chirayinkeezhu, Nedumangad, Vamanapuram, Aruvikkara, and Kattakada. The total electorate is 12,23,358, including 5,59,158 men and 6,64,200 women. The Nedumangad Assembly segment has the largest electorate of 1,83,374 while Varkala with 1,59,104 has the smallest number of voters.Previous election
In the 2009 elections, Mr. Sampath won by a margin of 18,341 against G. Balachandran of the Congress. While Mr. Sampath polled 3,28,036 votes (45.37%), the Congress bagged 3,09,695. The BJP nominee Thottakkad Sasi had a tally of 47,620 votes. Mr. Sampath had the upper hand in the Varkala, Attingal, Chirayinkeezhu, Nedumangad and Vamanapuram Assembly segments, while Aruvikkara and Kattakada went with the Congress.
With the UDF desperate to reclaim Attingal from the CPI(M), the stage is set for an intense electoral battle. Both Mr. Sampath and Ms. Krishna are lawyers with deep roots in the constituency.
As his party’s unchallenged nominee, Mr. Sampath had everything going for him right from the start while Ms. Krishna’s name was announced by the Congress after a tortuous selection process. The BJP has fielded former Vellanad panchayat president S. Girijakumari who defected from the CPI(M) recently. The party hopes to improve its tally by splitting the Left votes.
Though Attingal comprises the foothills of Ponmudi and Agasthyarkoodam, the Kasturirangan report has failed to evoke serious concern among the populace as in other high ranges of the State like Idukki and Wayanad. The campaign here is focussing on the issues related to the development of the constituency.