Dennis Marcus Mathew
Contest has a mix of political, physical and cultural factors
ALAPPUZHA: It will not be just the vote-garnering skills of candidates that will be put to test in the Mavelikara parliamentary constituency.
The physical strength and stamina of each candidate too will face a tough trial, thanks to the snaking contours of this constituency.
Beginning from the hustle and bustle of Changanassery in Kottayam district, the constituency map zigzags through scenic backwaters and paddy fields in Kuttanad, Mavelikara and Chengannur of Alappuzha district and touches Pathanapuram and Kunnathur of Kollam district before ending up in the land of palaces and Kathakali, Kottarakara, also in Kollam.
In the fray
Surviving the scorching summer heat while reaching out to every nook and cranny of this constituency is turning out to be a demanding task for the campaigns of the Left Democratic Front’s R.S. Anil (CPI), the United Democratic Front’s Kodikunnil Suresh (INC) and the Bharatiya Janata Party’s P.M. Velayudhan.
The erstwhile Mavelikara constituency, i.e., before the delimitation exercise, comprised the Assembly constituencies of Kayamkulam, Chengannur, Mavelikara, Pandalam, Kallooppara, Thiruvalla and Aranmula.
Pandalam and Kallooppara ceased to exist after the boundaries were redrawn, while Kottarakara, Pathanapuram and Kunnathur have been accommodated in Mavelikara.
Changanassery came in from Kottayam while the Mavelikara and Alappuzha constituencies exchanged Kayamkulam and Kuttanad. Thiruvalla and Aranmula went to Pathanamthitta. Chengannur and Mavelikara Assembly constituencies remained untouched.
The constituency, which was reserved for the Scheduled Castes in the first Lok Sabha elections of 1951-52, finds itself reserved again after 57 years. It has a rich mix of all communities and religions.
While Changanassery has the headquarters of the Nair Service Society, Christian denominations, including Syrian Catholics and the Marthoma sections, are quite strong in different regions.
Mavelikara is also among the constituencies with the largest presence of non-resident Keralites.
Politically, Mavelikara has been one of the few areas in the State where the BJP has a strong presence.
Still, history shows that the UDF has maintained a strong grip on the seat.
P.J. Kurien of the Congress has represented Mavelikara five times in the Lok Sabha while KPCC president Ramesh Chennithala has won once. He was defeated by C.S. Sujatha of the CPI (M) by 7,414 votes in 2004 with Ms. Sujatha going on to win a few awards for her performance as an MP. She is not in the fray this time though.
This time, as CPI’s debutante R.S. Anil tries to keep the seat with the LDF, four-time MP Kodikunnil Suresh and BJP veteran P.M. Velayudhan will be banking on their experience.
Out of the seven Assembly constituencies, four are with UDF parties including the Kerala Congress (M), Kerala Congress (B) and the Congress. Two are with the LDF (RSP and CPI-M) while one is with the NCP.
An interesting tussle that has a mix of political, physical and cultural factors is on the cards here.