District: Alappuzha Kerala

Kerala Assembly Elections | Fronts gird their loins for a poll thriller in Alappuzha district

As electioneering for the Assembly polls enters the final phase, Alappuzha district is in for an intense electoral battle.

While the Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) is eyeing a repeat of the 2016 elections when it bagged eight of the nine seats in the district, the Congress-headed United Democratic Front (UDF) is leaving no stone unturned to improve its tally. Along with the LDF and the UDF, the growing presence of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is expected to make it a close contest in most constituencies here.

The CPI(M)'s decision not to field Ministers T.M. Thomas Isaac and G. Sudhakaran and the Communist Party of India (CPI) opting to keep away P. Thilothaman from the poll fray have surprised many. The UDF has opted for a mix of young and experienced faces. The NDA has fielded three crossover candidates from the communist parties in Cherthala, Kuttanad and Mavelikara.

Explosive remarks

But perhaps what set the election scene on fire was Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) ideologue R. Balashankar’s explosive remarks about a suspected tacit deal between the BJP State leadership and the CPI(M) behind him being denied the ticket by the BJP in Chengannur.

BJP Alappuzha Assembly constituency candidate Sandeep Vachaspati paying floral tributes at the Punnapra-Vayalar martyrs’ memorial and the subsequent attack on BJP Ambalappuzha constituency candidate Anoop Antony Joseph further heated up the campaigning.

While the LDF is riding high on development mantra and welfare schemes, the UDF is banking on the allegations against the government and, to some extent, the popularity of its candidates. Both the UDF and the NDA are also chorusing the Sabarimala issue.

Of the four constituencies where sitting MLAs are seeking re-election, the contest is deemed tight in three of them.

In Aroor, sitting MLA Shanimol Usman, who wrested the seat in the 2019 bypoll, is pitted against playback singer Daleema Jojo of the CPI (M). In Kayamkulam, U. Prathibha, MLA, is up against Aritha Babu, one of the youngest candidates fielded by the Congress.

Pitched battle

In his re-election bid, Saji Cherian of the CPI(M) is engaged in a pitched battle against M. Murali of the Congress and M.V. Gopakumar of the BJP in Chengannur. The LDF has its work cut out there after being at odds with both the Nair Service Society (NSS) and the Orthodox faction of the Malankara Church, two prominent communities with considerable vote share. Although considered an ‘A’ class constituency by the BJP, Balashankar’s outburst is sure to dent its poll prospects in Chengannur.

Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala, who is seeking a fifth term from Haripad, is likely to sail through. The LDF is optimistic about a victory in Mavelikara, where it fielded M.S. Arun Kumar, a young face of the CPI(M). In Cherthala, Alappuzha and Ambalappuzha where new faces replaced Mr. Thilothaman, Dr. Isaac and Mr. Sudhakaran respectively, the battle will be much closer this time.

In Cherthala, P. Prasad of the CPI is taking on S. Sarath of the Congress, whereas in Alappuzha, the main battle is between P.P. Chitharanjan of the CPI(M) and Congress’ K.S. Manoj.

The contest between the District Congress Committee president M. Liju and H. Salam of the CPI(M) in Ambalappuzha is expected to go right down to the wire. Thomas K. Thomas of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) is up against Jacob Abraham of the Kerala Congress in Kuttanad.

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Printable version | Sep 25, 2021 4:05:35 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/kerala-assembly/fronts-gird-their-loins-for-a-poll-thriller/article34180008.ece

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