Mohamed Nazeer

Election will be fiercely fought in this hotbed of politics

KANNUR: The elections this time in the Kannur Lok Sabha constituency will be as fiercely fought as it has been always in this hotbed of politics as the stakes are equally high for the two political fronts in the State.

The Left Democratic Front (LDF), led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist), has to show that the constituency, which it wrested from the Congress in 1999 and retained with a spectacular margin in 2004, has become its bastion. The United Democratic Front (UDF), led by the Congress, has to prove its strength in the constituency, where it had been winning till 1999.

For the CPI(M), the constituency is in the district it considers a source of its political sinew. The Congress is hard-pressed to recapture the constituency which had elected its candidate, Mullappally Ramachandran, in five successive elections from 1984.

The battle lines have been drawn for Congress candidate K. Sudhakaran and CPI(M) candidate K.K. Ragesh to test their electoral fortunes in what is expected to be a vehement campaign.

A strongman in the Congress district unit and political veteran, Mr. Sudhakaran, now Kannur MLA, is being projected as a high-profile candidate with a mission to win the seat back. He had been elected MLA three times and had served as a Minister in the previous UDF government. He is a bete noire of the CPI(M) and the campaign heat will match the rising mercury.

Mr. Ragesh, former general secretary of the Students’ Federation of India, may be a newcomer to the electoral field. But his candidature brings to mind the CPI(M)’s successful experiment of launching young A.P. Abdullakutty to capture the seat 10 years ago.

Mr. Abdullakutty, who was expelled from the party recently, is now campaigning for Mr. Sudhakaran. The UDF believes that his presence on the campaign front will be embarrassing to the Left front. As Mr. Sudhakaran and Mr. Ragesh, Bharatiya Janata Party candidate P.P. Karunakaran hails from this district.

Till 1999, the constituency had traditionally favoured the UDF. The LDF candidate’s margin in 1999 was 10,247 votes, which rose to 83,849 in 2004. This overwhelming shift is still a puzzle for the UDF.

Mr. Ramachandran’s margin was 25,053 against Patyam Rajan in 1984, 42,404 against P. Sasi in 1989, 41,127 against Ibrahimkutty in 1991, and 39,302 against Ramachandran Kadannappally, who, unlike the earlier candidates, was not of the CPI(M) but of the Congress(S), in 1996.

The Congress candidate’s margin plummeted to 2,180 in 1998 when he fought against A.C. Shanmughadas of the Congress(S).

Post-delimitation, the constituency still has seven Assembly segments, though its outer and inner boundaries have been redrawn. Taliparamba, Irikkur, Kannur, Azhikode, Dharmadam, Mattannur and Peravur are the segments.

The North Wayanad and Edakkad segments have ceased to exist. Instead, Dharmadam and Mattannur have come into existence.

Taliparamba was earlier part of the Kasaragod constituency, and its inclusion is to the disadvantage of the UDF. Koothuparamba, earlier in the constituency, is now in the Vadakara constituency.

But two of its panchayats have been linked with four panchayats of the erstwhile Edakkad segment and one of the Thalassery segment to form the new Dharmadam segment, an LDF fortress.

The traditionally pro-UDF Kannur segment is no longer a safe haven of the UDF after the merger of a few panchayats considered LDF strongholds with it.

The UDF’s strength in Irikkur has increased after the delimitation. It can also draw consolation in Peravur, where the both fronts are equally poised, as some of the LDF-stronghold panchayats have been de-linked to form the new Mattannur segment, while pro-UDF Kottiyur and Kelakam panchayats of the erstwhile North Wayanad are now part of Peravur.

Political issues are always prominently raised during campaigns in this constituency.

Diehard political loyalties invariably eclipse other issues and religious and caste considerations here.