Mohamed Nazeer

UDF bid to make inroads into this LDF fort

KOOTHUPARAMBA: Election campaigning in the Koothuparamba constituency centres around on political issues because politics matters more than anything else in this bastion of the Communist Party of India(Marxist).

It was nearly an year ago that the CPI(M) leader P. Jayarajan won a record margin in the byelection here. When he is contesting in this election against Congress nominee Sajiv Joseph, the 45,377 lead that he secured in the byelection is still fresh in the minds of the electorate here. That lead was more than the total votes garnered by the United Democratic Front (UDF) in the constituency in the byelection. The CPI(M) is marshalling all its strength to ensure that this State-level record is maintained now.

It requires no deep insight to understand that it is immensely difficult for the UDF to make even small inroads into this Communist heartland. However, the Democratic Indira Congress(Karunakaran) played a role in bestowing on the CPI(M) candidate the record margin in the byelection when that party was actively supporting the CPI(M). So it remains to be seen whether Mr. Jayarajan can repeat his byelection lead this time. Now the DIC(K) is with the UDF.

Mr. Jayarajan was elected from here in 2001 by a margin of 18,620 votes over K. Prabhakaran of the Congress. The byelection was necessitated when Mr. Jayarajan was disqualified by the Supreme Court in a litigation filed by Mr. Prabhakaran. The LDF polled 31,580 votes in the Koothuparamba segment in the 2004 Lok Sabha election. The UDF candidate here is facing a formidable task. Even a decline in the LDF margin in the constituency gives him abundant reason to celebrate.

The constituency is now in the thick of the election campaign when it is still to come out of the byelection exhaustion. The sitting MLA says that he has done for the constituency everything that he has promised in his manifesto earlier - New building for the Koothuparamba Government Hospital, funds for building construction for several schools in the constituency, allocation of the MLA fund for covering schools here under the Edusat programme and various road works. He also accuses the UDF Government of stifling the development of the Valiyavelicham Industrial Development Centre in the constituency.

The UDF camp refutes this by saying that the LDF's claims of development in the constituency is hollow. The awareness that CPI(M) candidates here can make an easy walkover in the constituency has been proved detrimental to the development of the State, it says. The sitting MLA has not exerted his pressure to bring more industrial units in the constituency, it adds. The UDF candidate is also highlighting the backwardness of the Adivasi areas in the constituency.

M. K. Ranjith is contesting from here as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate. The BJP did not contest from here in the byelection and in 2001. It polled 5.19 per cent in the 1996 Assembly election and 4.79 per cent in the Koothuparamba segment in the Lok Sabha elections in 2004.