As always, the political landscape in the Kannur Lok Sabha constituency has been cut out for a perfect, no-holds-barred election campaign for the simple reason that stakes are high for the key players in the fray.

It cannot be any different this time when two former Ministers are in the arena. Congress leader K. Sudhakaran is the United Democratic Front (UDF) candidate seeking re-election from the constituency which he won in 2009 with a huge margin of 43,151 votes. His Left Democratic Front (LDF) rival this time is an experienced leader and Communist Party of India (Marxist) central committee member P.K. Sreemathy.

In a couple of days, electioneering operations of the UDF and the LDF will be in full swing as they marshal all their energies to win the seat.

Prestige issue

It is a matter of prestige for the CPI(M) to recapture the constituency which it lost in the 2009 election. The UDF win in 2009 ended the CPI(M)’s hold in the constituency in the two previous elections when the CPI(M)’s ‘‘wonder kid’’ A.P. Abdullakutty had won the seat in the two previous elections. His margin in the 2004 election was a whopping 80,000-plus votes against Congress leader Mullappally Ramachandran.

Mr. Abdullakutty’s exit from the CPI(M) and his entry in the Congress in 2009 was a game changer then. Mr. Sudhakaran went to the electorate in 2009 after resigning as MLA from the Kannur constituency. The star campaigner in 2009, Mr. Abdullakutty will be largely absent from UDF campaign as he is facing charges of sexual molestation following a complaint filed by solar case accused Saritha S. Nair.

Since the 2009 election, votes garnered by the UDF in these seven constituencies have declined. The Peravur and Irikkur Assembly constituencies that gave huge margins for Mr. Sudhakaran in 2009 are the areas that witnessed protests against the K. Kasturirangan report. The LDF is expected to make much use of the irate mood in these hill areas to woo Christian voters.

The winning margins of the LDF candidates in the Taliparamba, Mattannur, and Dharmadam Assembly segments were 27,861, 30,512 and 21,162 votes respectively. The UDF candidates won Azhikode and Peravur with slender margins of 493 and 1,560 votes respectively, while it fared well in the Kannur and Irikkur constituencies, winning margins there being 6,443 and 11,757 votes respectively. The UDF will use the T.P. Chandrasekharan and Shukkoor murder cases in the campaign to annoy the CPI(M).

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate P.C. Mohanan has also begun the electioneering. The BJP will be mustering its energy to mobilise the votes it could garner to show that the party is facing no erosion after two of its district leaders and their followers joined the CPI(M) fold. In the 2009 election, the BJP candidate polled 27,031 votes.

The electoral fortunes of the candidates in the constituency will be decided by 11,41,866 voters that included 6,10,851 female voters and 5,31,015 male voters.

Which way the new young voters numbering over 72,000 think in the coming election is also a factor to be keenly watched.