Paikkalangadi, a hilly hamlet, a little away from Kuttiyadi town, is unlikely to be the place where one would like to be on a summer noon with mercury soaring above 36 degrees Celsius.

Braving the blistering weather, several dozens gathered at this nondescript village. A makeshift podium with two chairs has been set up in front of a defunct building.

As the wait prolongs, local leaders of the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) and the Congress take turns to engage the small assembly.

After two hours, the candidate and Union Minister of State for Home, Mullappally Ramachandran, alights from an open van.

Mr. Ramachandran is all smiles and has profuse apologies for the delay.

Known for his clean image, Mr. Ramachandran is banking heavily on his contribution to the constituency’s development. Vadakara now figures in the national map with two projects, a Border Security Force (BSF) unit at Nadapuram and a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) unit at Perambra. The campaign meetings of CPI(M) candidate A.N. Shamseer is more vociferous. His road show is meticulously planned and systematic. A furbished mini-lorry carrying a band, all its members dressed in red, pilots Mr. Shamseer’s decorated vehicle. It is 10.30 a.m. and the candidate is expected anytime at Muliyeri in Maniyoor grama panchayat.

The candidate drives in and accepts the red garlands from party workers. He takes the stage and is quick and to the point, “forget my name for the time being. There is also a namesake candidate. Just vote for my symbol to bring in an alternative Left government which will solve your problems.”

BJP’s presence

Like elsewhere, it is the ‘Modi factor’ that BJP candidate V.K. Sajeevan seeks to cash in on. The party has pockets of influence in rural belts and the four municipalities in the constituency. Another major candidate in the fray is P. Kumarankutty of the Revolutionary Marxist Party (RMP). His campaign mostly hinges on the ‘political violence’ factor, especially the murder of RMP leader T.P. Chandrasekharan at Onchiyam in 2012. The big question is whether he would be able to retain the votes that Chandrasekaharan had secured in 2009.

Other candidates

Film-maker Ali Akbar of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), P. Abdul Hameed of SDPI, and A.M. Smitha of CPI(ML) are the other candidates in the fray.

The Vadakara electorate, mainly comprises those in the Thiyya and Muslim communities. There are pockets of Nairs, Nambiars, and the Christian community. The constituency confronts several issues — from the K. Kasturirangan report to communal disharmony to political violence. Farmers in Kavilampara and Thottilpalam are agitated over the K. Kasturirangan report, while smaller groups in a few villages have vowed to boycott the ballot in protest against the ‘lackadaisical attitude’ of local bodies in taking up development initiatives.

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