Kerala Assembly elections 2021: Constituency Watch

Not a cakewalk for the prime contenders

Caste and community factors may not matter much for Vadakara’s deeply political voters. Their electoral choice in this Assembly polls is mainly between a splinter group of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] backed by the United Democratic Front (UDF), and a splinter group of the Janata Parivar that recently returned to the Left Democratic Front (LDF).

Manayath Chandran, district president, Loktantrik Janata Dal, had a head start in the campaign as the LDF candidate. The UDF support for and the candidature of Revolutionary Marxist Party (RMP) leader K.K. Rema, however, came after a lot of confusion. By the time Ms. Rema began her campaign by the end of last week, Mr. Chandran was already into his second leg of the process.

By endorsing her candidature, the UDF hopes to rekindle the debate around political violence and the murder of T.P. Chandrasekharan, Ms. Rema’s husband and RMP founder. The Congress-led coalition also hopes to get votes in return for its candidates in adjacent Assembly seats in Vadakara taluk. But, the LDF is focussing only on the development works of its government. CPI(M) leaders claim that political violence is no longer a relevant issue in the constituency.

Pluses and minuses

Mr. Chandran, who was the UDF candidate as a Janata Dal (United) nominee, had lost to C.K. Nanu of the Janata Dal (Secular) in the 2016 Assembly polls. The rechristening of the JD(U) and its entry to the LDF seem to have given it a numerical advantage. In the recent local body polls, the RMP-UDF coalition had come to power in some grama panchayats. But the total number of votes of LDF candidates was higher than the RMP-UDF combine. The victory of LDF nominees in block panchayat and district panchayat divisions also gives the ruling front some hope.

Ms. Rema had managed to get over 20,000 votes as a candidate not aligned to any of the fronts last time. The UDF hopes these votes along with Ms. Rema’s appeal to women voters and a section sympathetic to her within the CPI(M) will help her win.

However, it is not going to be a cakewalk for both. There seems to be some heartburn within the JD(S) when its sitting seat was snatched away. A section of pro-Left voters are not reportedly sure about Mr. Chandran’s popular appeal. How these will reflect in the voting for the LDF candidate remains to be seen.

Also, a section within the RMP was not happy about the UDF declaring Ms. Rema’s candidature much before that party made a formal announcement. Their differences with the Congress leadership is not a secret.

New voters

The choice of around 10,000 new voters will be key in determining the fate of both the candidates. The National Democratic Alliance has fielded M. Rajesh Kumar, who secured 13,937 votes last time.

This heartland of North Malabar is among the few seats that has never elected a non-Left candidate as its MLA so far. That record will stay safe whoever wins this time.

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Printable version | May 18, 2021 8:27:24 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/kerala-assembly/not-a-cakewalk-for-the-prime-contenders/article34129408.ece

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