UDF has swept the local body elections in this bastion of the CPI(M)

For a party that has considered the Vamanapuram Assembly constituency as its bastion for close to 35 years, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] will probably like to erase the memory of its shocking defeat in the elections to the local bodies last year.

The Left Democratic Front (LDF) won just one of the nine panchayats in the constituency. The United Democratic Front (UDF) walked away with a tally of seven, while the two fronts shared the spoils in one panchayat. The UDF also bagged 13 of the 15 divisions in the Vamanapuram block panchayat, asserting its supremacy.

But as the campaign engine for the Assembly elections kicks into overdrive, the LDF leadership avers that the mood of the electorate has undergone a transformation since. The well-oiled coalition machinery is working overtime, seemingly confident that the setback last year was a temporary phenomenon, a thing of the past.

Now the CPI(M) has fielded an old warhorse to capture the hearts of the voters. Four-time MLA Koliyakkode N. Krishnan Nair has already completed two rounds of house visits. Having been returned from the same seat in the 1980, 1982, 1987 and 1991 elections, Mr. Nair needs no introduction to the voters.

In the 2006 Assembly elections, it was J. Arundhati of the party who won here. The LDF campaign managers are confident that the outcome of the local body elections will not reflect on the Assembly elections this time.

Hoping to repeat the performance of the UDF in the elections to local bodies, the Congress, under the seat-sharing arrangement in the front, has taken the Vamanapuram seat from the Janadhipathya Samrakshana Samithi, which contested last time. The former Sports Council president C. Mohanachandran has been nominated to challenge the LDF juggernaut.

The UDF camp is seeking votes on the ground that a political mismatch between the representatives to the local bodies and the Assembly will work out to the disadvantage of the constituency.

The campaign focusses on development issues. The problems in drinking water and electricity supply and the absence of adequate hospital facilities are being highlighted by the UDF.

The Venjaramoodu area is the hub of the election campaign in the constituency. Dalits and plantation workers constitute a sizeable section of the electorate.

The Bharatiya Janata Party has fielded panchayat member Karette Sivaprasad to take on the UDF and the LDF candidates. The party is banking on its pockets of influence to improve its vote share. With the World Cup cricket fever dying down, the candidates and their party supporters are gearing up to go all out. The vehicle campaign is expected to start on Sunday.