N.J. Nair

‘Comfortable’ seats of prominent leaders of both fronts cease to exist

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Delimitation Commission which carved out a new Lok Sabha constituency and five Assembly segments in the district without upsetting the numbers has caused many prominent leaders of the United Democratic Front (UDF) and the Left Democratic Front (LDF) to give up what have been considered ‘comfortable’ seats for them.

The Kuldip Singh-led commission took care to retain intact all local self-government institutions which formed the basic unit of the delimitation exercise. But by redrawing the boundaries, a new political map has now emerged here.

The commission carved out a new Lok Sabha constituency, Attingal, in place of Chirayinkeezhu. Five new Assembly constituencies — Chirayinkeezhu and Vattiyoorkavu, both reserved for Scheduled Castes, Thiruvananthapuram, Aruvikkara and Kattakada — have come into being.

Past trends

At present, the LDF is holding its sway over a majority of the local bodies, including Thiruvananthapuram Corporation, Varkala, Attingal, Nedumangad and Neyyatinkara municipalities, the district panchayat, 12 block and 78 grama panchayats. Following the delimitation exercise, the LDF strongholds of Kazhakuttam and Sreekaryam panchayats have been included in the Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha segment, while Varkala, Attingal and Nedumangad municipalities were added to the Attingal Lok Sabha constituency.

The existing Chirayinkeezhu segment had been returning LDF candidates, especially Varkala Radhakrishnan, during the last two elections. Thiruvananthapuram has been shifting its preferences between the UDF and the LDF, the latest winners being Pannian Ravindran of the LDF. If the control over local bodies is an indicator, the LDF enjoys a clear edge over the UDF.

Major forces

The Nair and Nadar communities are the major forces to be reckoned with in Thiruvananthapuram. These, combined with the apolitical middle class voters, constitute a decisive factor in the elections.

The delimited Thiruvananthapuram constituency comprises the Kazhakuttam, Vattiyoorkavu (SC), Thiruvananthapuram, Nemom, Parassala, Kovalam and Neyyatinkara Assembly segments.

Attingal has been formed by including the Varkala, Attingal and Chirayinkeezhu (both reserved), Nedumangad, Vamanapuram, Aruvikkara and Kattakada Assembly constituencies.

The newly-formed Thiruvananthapuram Assembly segment covers 26 Corporation wards and Vattiyoorkavu, a reserved constituency, 18 corporation wards and Kudapanakunnu and Vattiyoorkavu grama panchayats. Aruvikkara has been formed by including Aruvikkara, Aryanad, Tholicode, Vithura, Kuttichal, Poovachal, Vellanad and Uzhamalakkal panchayats. The Kattakada segment too is a combination of six panchayats: Kattakada, Malayinkeezhu, Maranellor, Pallichal, Vilappil and Vilavoorkal panchayats.

Thiruvananthapuram North, East, West and Aryanad now cease to exist. Many prominent LDF and UDF leaders will lose their pocket boroughs in the process. Congress leader G. Karthikeyan, who was returned from Aryanad, Law Minister M. Vijayakumar who was elected from Thiruvananthapuram North, former Mayor V. Sivankutty who won from Thiruvananthapuram East, and the Kerala Congress (J) which had been retaining Thiruvananthapuram East will have to explore other options.

New fortunes

The Revolutionary Socialist Party has lost its traditional seat Aryanad. While drastic changes in the combination of panchayats at the grassroots level will affect the fortunes of the UDF and LDF partners, the major parties, the Congress and especially the CPI(M), will remain unaffected. Some of the allies in both fronts will be unable to stake their claims to more seats in future.