If history could decide affairs during an election, the political temperature of Alappuzha would have been soaring higher than the mercury, rather than that of Kannur, during the run-up to the November 7 Assembly by-election. For, such is the political past and current tense of Alappuzha.
A constituency that has witnessed the blazing beginnings of Communism in the State, right from the days of P. Krishna Pillai and one where the blood-marks of the historic Punnapra-Vayalar Revolt continue to boil leftist blood, Alappuzha stands out as a strange phenomenon because it has leaned right for seven out of the 13 Assembly elections held here.
The United Democratic Front, which won here twice through the now defunct National Democratic Party’s K.P. Ramachandran Nair, has maintained the winning spree through K.C. Venugopal of the Congress in three consecutive elections starting from 1996. The earlier two victories of the Congress were in 1960, when Nafeezath Beevi trounced CPI strongman T.V. Thomas and in 1965, when Mr. Thomas lost to G. Chidambara Iyer.
However, Mr. Thomas came back strongly in 1967 and 1970 while former Chief Minister P.K. Vasudevan Nair took over from him in 1977 and 1980. After that, except for the CPI’s Rosamma Punnoose in 1987, Alappuzha has favoured the UDF.
This time around, the Left Democratic Front, through the CPI’s G. Krishnaprasad, is out to salvage lost pride. A campaign that has seen almost every member of the State Cabinet right from Chief Minister
V.S. Achuthanandan, descending on the quaint little town, is gathering steam even as on the other side, the Congress is hoping that the achievements of Mr. Venugopal help its candidate, A.A. Shukoor, taste success. The UDF campaign is expected to have Defence Minister A.K. Antony along with Union Minister for Indian Affairs Overseas Vayalar Ravi from next week.
Developmental issues claim a major spot on the poll plank here, with Alappuzha being rather notorious for its lack of development, proof of which are repair/maintenance works worth Rs.22 crore that have been pending for several years. Growth of the constituency, which will go to the polls with its pre-delimitation geography of 50 wards of the Alappuzha Municipality, has been hampered by the lack of pure drinking water, non-existent garbage disposal facilities and a traffic riddle that seems to have no answer at all, all this despite its internationally known tourist destination status.
Questions like whether the BJP’s K. Babu and the PDP’s K.A. Hassan can make crucial dents in the vote banks of the LDF and the UDF, how forces like the Nair Service Society and the Latin Catholic Church will vote and above all, whether the voter will take seriously an election that will give his or her representative hardly a year in office, are also in want of answers.
The following is the break up of no. of eligible voters in the district.
• Voters: 1,14,000
• Male voters: 54,650
• Female voters: 59,350