A triangular fight for supremacy in Palakkad

LDF’s A. Vijayaraghavan and BJP’s C. Krishnakumar are giving a tough fight to UDF’s sitting MP V.K. Sreekandan

Published - April 01, 2024 11:54 pm IST - Palakkad

Palakkad is known for its hot weather, perhaps the hottest in Kerala. Electoral heat too has become palpable in Palakkad with Left Democratic Front (LDF) candidate A. Vijayaraghavan and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate C. Krishnakumar giving a tough fight to United Democratic Front (UDF)’s sitting MP V.K. Sreekandan. The fight is triangular indeed with the BJP increasing its clout and counting Palakkad as a class-A constituency.

Mr. Vijayaraghavan, the only Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] Politburo member in the fray in the State, is out to wrest back Palakkad from Mr. Sreekandan, who defeated LDF’s two-time MP M.B. Rajesh by 11,637 votes in 2019. The LDF is pinning its hopes on the Assembly election results, in which Assembly segments such as Pattambi, Shoranur, Ottapalam, Kongad, and Malampuzha had favoured the LDF while Mannarkkad and Palakkad favoured the UDF.

Given the consistent voting character of the seven Assembly segments that make up the Palakkad Lok Sabha constituency, the LDF enjoys an edge. But Parliament elections are a league apart, say most seasoned politicians.

No absolute supremacy

Neither the LDF nor the UDF can claim an absolute supremacy in Palakkad. Eleven Communist leaders and six Congress leaders represented Palakkad in the Lok Sabha in the 16 elections held since 1957. Palakkad was a dual-member constituency in 1957. Election of two members was stopped through the Two Member Constituencies (Abolition) Act, 1961.

Top Communist leaders E.K. Nayanar and A.K. Gopalan were elected to Parliament from Palakkad in 1967 and 1971 respectively. LDF’s N.N. Krishnadas holds the record of winning four Lok Sabha elections consecutively from Palakkad (1996, 1998, 1999 and 2004). UDF’s V.S. Vijayaraghavan represented Palakkad three times (1980, 1984 and 1991). The biggest vote-share garnered by a winning candidate in Palakkad was 65.62% by Communist Party of India’s (CPI) P. Kunhan in 1962.

Growth in BJP votes

In 2019, winner Mr. Sreekandan had polled 3.99 lakh votes, when his classmate and rival Mr. Rajesh polled 3.876 lakh votes, and Mr. Krishnakumar 2.185 lakh votes. In the past three decades, Palakkad saw a steady growth of the BJP vote-share — it rose from 3.70% in 1989 to 21.44% in 2019. The BJP this time is hoping to carve further into the UDF and LDF votes. Given the triangular fight, polling 39% votes can bring a winning proposition for any front.

Palakkad district has 22.64 lakh voters, of whom more than 14 lakh are in Palakkad Parliament constituency. The final figures of the electorate are yet to be published.

None of the three candidates is new to Palakkad. Mr. Sreekandan is known for his ability to reach out to every nook and cranny of Palakkad. Mr. Vijayaraghavan has a solid base in the district, and had a successful Lok Sabha stint from Palakkad in 1989. Mr. Krishnakumar had taken out a march through the constituency weeks ahead of the announcement of the elections.

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