Kerala Assembly Elections | A photo finish likely in Aranmula constituency in Pathanamthitta district

UDF candidate K. Sivadasan Nair during an election campaign in the Aranmula constituency   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

On a residential plot close to the banks of the Manimalayar, veteran Congress leader K. Sivadasan Nair is busy canvassing local residents for the upcoming Assembly elections.

It's an area where he expects to get support from. The workers of the United Democratic Front (UDF) accords him a rousing welcome by rendering a few lines of the famous vanchipattu (boat song). A resident of Aranmula, Mr. Nair suddenly finds himself in a familiar terrain and joins the performance.

He sounds upbeat. “You have all been a great source of strength to me. As an elected representative, I shall be committed to addressing your concerns,” he says, before moving on to the next point.

Just as he did in the previous two Assembly elections, Mr. Nair, who is locked in a close race with the Left democratic Front (LDF) candidate and sitting legislator Veena George, once again has the Aranmula seat in his sight. He might have lost the battle when the two faced off in 2016, but the UDF believes that it has regained much of the lost ground post the 2018 floods and the Sabarimala protests.

LDF candidate Veena George during an election campaign in the Aranmula Assembly segment

LDF candidate Veena George during an election campaign in the Aranmula Assembly segment   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Not everyone, however, is buying this argument, as Ms. George remains capable of chipping away the UDF's advantage. Canvassing residents of the Elanthur panchayat, she receives support from a number of them who acknowledge themselves as ardent Left supporters.

“The progressive changes the region has witnessed ever since the previous government came to power in 2016 will have to continue. For this, the LDF has to continue,” she tells them.

While post-flood reconstruction holds the focal point in the LDF's election campaign, the coalition also hopes to leverage the momentum it gained during the recent local body polls to pull off a victory.

Anti-incumbency wave

The National Democratic Alliance, meanwhile, seeks to reject any suggestion that the battle for Aranmula is a straight fight between the UDF and LDF. Having recorded a sharp surge in its vote share during the previous Assembly elections, the coalition has relentlessly pushed to expand in the region by riding on the anti-incumbency wave, combined with the Sabarimala issue, to work in its favour.

NDA candidate Biju Mathew campaigns in Aranmula

NDA candidate Biju Mathew campaigns in Aranmula   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Biju Mathew, a BJP leader contesting as the NDA candidate, is confident about the voters extending their whole-hearted support to the development vision set by the Narendra Modi government at the Centre. “I am sure that the people will vote for a change this time and find a way out of the vicious circle involving the UDF-LDF combine,” he says.

Of the 13 local bodies in the Assembly segment, the UDF has an edge in five, while the LDF rules six, including the Pathanamthitta municipality. The BJP holds advantage in one local body, the Kulanada panchayat, while the lone remaining panchayat, Thottapuzhassery, has an independent at its helm.

Having been in the shadow of an alleged pact between the CPI(M) and the BJP, the seat presents one of the most intriguing battle in Pathanamthitta district. Among the key factors expected to affect the final result include the stance of the Orthodox church as well as members of the Hindu upper castes.

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Printable version | May 13, 2021 7:48:56 AM |

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