Excluded segments are Congress strongholds
‘UDF will have to adopt new tactics to woo voters’
CPI(M) may strengthen demand for seat from JD(S)
Kozhikode: The delimitation of the Kozhikode Lok Sabha constituency appears to have given a clear-cut competitive advantage to the Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) over the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF).
Basically this prestigious constituency in north Kerala is a Congress bastion. It has been returning Congress candidates for a long time. K. Muraleedharan, at present State president of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), won three times from here in fiercely contested electoral battles.
Only occasionally did the seat go in favour of LDF candidates and that too when the electorate preferring the high-profile media baron M.P. Veerendrakumar of the Janata Dal (Secular) during the anti-Congress wave. Twice he was elected from the constituency.
Now the Delimitation Commission of India has redrawn the contours of the constituency with inclusion and exclusion of new Assembly segments. Beypore and Kunnamangalam Assembly constituencies, both in the district, have been shifted to the Kozhikode Lok Sabha constituency.
Earlier these segments were with the Manjeri Lok Sabha constituency. The newly created Elathur constituency has also been included in the Kozhikode constituency.
The Thiruvambadi Assembly segment in Kozhikode district and Kalpetta and Sulthan Bathery segments in Wayanad, which were part of the Kozhikode Lok Sabha constituency, have been moved to the newly created Wayanad Lok Sabha constituency.
The other Assembly constituencies remain unchanged. They are Kozhikode North, Kozhikode South, Koduvally and Balussery.
The Assembly constituencies which have been shifted to Wayanad are strongholds of the Congress although the LDF had also won from these seats on a few occasions.
The LDF won all the three seats hands down in the last Assembly elections.
The electorate of these hilly constituencies consist of settler farmers with a sizeable chunk of Christians, particularly of the Syro-Malabar Church.
“Because of the reorganisation of the constituency, the UDF will have to adopt new strategies to woo the electorate of Kozhikode,” says P.A. Jaiprakash, district secretary, Kerala Congress (M).
The Kozhikode South and Kozhikode North Assembly segments have oscillated in favour of both LDF and UDF candidates.
However, the Beypore Assembly constituency stood rock solid behind the LDF during the anti-LDF wave in 2001. The coastal constituency of Beypore is also one of the largest Assembly segments in the district.
The Kunnamangalam constituency had preferred the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) candidate U.C. Raman for the last three Assembly elections. But it had also returned CPI (M) leader C.P. Balan Vaidyar three times in a row.
The Balussery constituency is fundamentally a Left stronghold while Koduvally has been an IUML citadel. But the Left-supported IUML rebel P.T.A. Rahim won from Koduvally in the last polls.
CPI(M) district secretary T.P. Ramakrishnan, recently re-elected to the post, says that the party had studied the reworked boundaries of the Lok Sabha as well as Assembly constituencies in the district.
The reorganisation of the constituency would certainly brighten the prospect of the LDF candidates in future elections.
But the party is yet to fully assess the impact of the delimitation of the constituency, he says.
The CPI(M) is also expected to strengthen its demand for the Lok Sabha seat from the JD(S) in the coming elections. The JD(S) will have to be contended with the Wayanad seat which the CPI(M) plans to offer.
Both the LDF and the UDF know that the pockets of influence of the NCP and the JD(S) are limited. However, Mr. Veerendrakumar and Mr. Muraleedharan enjoy considerable support and have a wide network in the constituency.
At present the NCP is no more with the LDF after K. Muraleedharan-led Democratic Indira Congress (Karunakaran) merged with that party. Its main leaders Cyriac John and K. Karunakaran have returned to the Congress fold.
The JD(S) is still a constituent of the LDF although the good relationships that existed between the State leadership of the party and the CPI(M) have turned sour.