Delimitation process has not brought any noticeable change to the segment

It is at Chavara, the mineral heartland of the State, that one of the toughest contests in the State is being witnessed. In this traditional Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) bastion, the fight is between the RSP, a Left Democratic Front constituent, and its faction, the Revolutionary Socialist Party (Baby John) of the United Democratic Front.

Sitting MLA and Minister for Water Resources N.K. Premachandran of the RSP is facing RSP(B) leader Shibu Baby John. Both are facing each other for the second consecutive time and the contest between them is so tough that nothing short of a photo finish is being predicted by voters on May 13.

Even in the 2006 elections, it was close fight with Mr. Premachandran winning by a slender majority of 1,786 votes. Voters say the contest between the LDF and the UDF at Chavara appears to be as close as it was in 2001. Mr. Shibu had won from the constituency as the RSP(B) candidate by defeating the RSP candidate V.P. Ramakrishna Pillai by 12,483 votes.

The constituency began to sense severe campaigning soon after the election notification and much before the date for nominations began. But the LDF side is confident. They project that Mr. Premachandran had nurtured the constituency well and is therefore in a position to approach the voters again with confidence.

The LDF camp lists the Chavara-Panmana Water Supply Scheme, the promised Premo PVC Pipe Factory, a Maritime Institute and modernisation of the fishing sector at Shakthikulangara-Neendakara as some of the Premachandran's projects at Chavara. Above all Mr. Premachandran was also a very accessible Minister to voters of Chavara.

But the UDF side counters it by stating that those are projects which have in no way impressed the voters. They substantiate their argument by pointing out that in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections; the voters vented their ire at the LDF by giving a margin of 14,002 votes to the UDF candidate in the Chavara segment.

Similarly, in the 2010 local body elections, the UDF was voted to rule in two out of the three grama panchayats in the constituency. In the six Kollam city Corporation divisions coming under the constituency, the UDF and the LDF won in three each. The delimitation process has not brought any noticeable geographical alteration to the constituency.

The Bharatiya Janata Party had fielded Mahila Morcha leader Nalini Sankaramangalam from the constituency and her presence is disturbing to both the LDF and the UDF.

Being a constituency witnessing a close fight and poised for a photo finish, both Mr. Premachandran and Mr. Shibu has enough reasons to be apprehensive about Ms. Nalini in the fray.

Apart from the traditional campaign methods, Chavara has a unique electioneering method and that is calling at individual houses. The system was introduced by Baby John and it proved to be very fruitful for him. Coming from the same tradition, both Mr. Premachandran and Mr. Shibu are earnestly carrying it forward. Not to be left behind, Ms. Nalini too is keeping up the system.

The 51-year-old Mr. Premachandran is a first rank holder in LLB and entered electoral politics through the Navaikulam grama panchayat in Thiruvananthapuram district in 1987, in 1991 to the district council and later to the district panchayat. In 1996, he contested to the Lok Sabha as the LDF candidate from Kollam and defeated S. Krishna Kumar of the Congress. He was re-elected to the Lok Sabha again from Kollam in 1998. He was also Rajya Sabha member for six years from 2000.

The 48-year-old Mr. Shiby is a mechanical engineer and is one of the founder leaders of the RSP(B). He entered politics at a time when his father Baby John was ailing. He at present leads various trade unions affiliated to his party.