In Thiruvananthapuram, all three fronts will fancy their chances

While the incumbent, Shashi Tharoor of the Congress, is eyeing a fourth win on the trot, the CPI’s Pannian Raveendran will be hoping to win the seat for the LDF for the first time since 2005. The NDA, which came second in the 2014 and 2019 polls, is striving to go one better by fielding Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar. Caste equations and contentions issues such as the Vizhinjam port works will play a crucial role in the election outcome

Updated - April 03, 2024 04:52 pm IST

Published - March 25, 2024 11:51 pm IST


. | Photo Credit: SREEJITH R KUMAR

Soaring mercury levels and spiralling political temperatures seem to march in lockstep in the Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha constituency where the Congress, the Communist Party of India (CPI), and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are battling for the electorate’s hearts and minds at the midpoint of an unseasonably scorching summer.

The three-pronged fight between incumbent MP and Congress Working Committee member Shashi Tharoor, Union Minister of State for Electronics and IT, Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Rajeev Chandrasekhar, and former CPI State secretary Pannian Raveendran, has rendered the contest perhaps the most watched in the State.

Those in the fray

Dr. Tharoor has come a long way since winning the constituency in 2009. Considered an atypical politician and Congress “outsider” for long, Dr. Tharoor has amassed a loyal base for three consecutive LS elections in Thiruvananthapuram. A fourth-time win for him would be a record in the constituency.

The career bureaucrat-turned-politician had secured 41.4% of total votes to defeat veteran rivals Kummanam Rajasekharan of the BJP and C. Divakaran of the CPI with a significant margin of 99,989 votes in the 2019 general elections. He came tantalisingly close to the winning lead of 99,998 he secured during his electoral debut.

The Congress leader, however, had to sweat it out against seasoned politician O. Rajagopal of the BJP to secure a close win by 15,470 votes in the 2014 polls.

Hoping to wrest the constituency after 15 years, the Left Democratic Front (LDF) has pinned its hopes on Mr. Raveendran, who had last won it for the coalition in a byelection held in 2005 following the demise of the then MP and former Chief Minister P.K. Vasudevan Nair.

The election is bound to become a litmus test for LDF which has been suffering an eroding vote base over the years – its vote share has slid from 51.41% during the byelection in 2005 to 30.74% in 2009, 28.5% in 2014, and 25.6% in 2019.

In a bid to capitalise on its growing popularity in the constituency, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has fielded tech entrepreneur-turned-politician Mr. Chandrasekhar, a three-time Rajya Sabha member who will be contesting a Lok Sabha election for the first time. Having secured vote shares above 30% to finish second in both the polls in 2014 and 2019, the BJP-led coalition is banking heavily on the vote base it has cultivated over the years.

Thiruvananthapuram constituency comprises seven Assembly segments, viz., Kazhakuttam, Vattiyurkavu, Thiruvananthapuram, Nemom, Parassala, Kovalam and Neyyattinkara. Barring Nemom where the NDA secured the highest number of votes, Dr. Tharoor earned significant leads in all other segments in the 2019 polls.

Among these, Parassala, Kovalam, and Neyyattinkara, which are known to have sizeable Nadar populations, fetched the Congress leader comfortable leads of over 20,000 votes each.

However, the LDF turned the tables on its rivals in the 2021 Kerala Assembly elections by winning almost all segments with Kovalam (won by UDF) being the lone exception.

Deciding factors

The Nair community and certain minority sections, including the Nadar community, are generally considered the major forces to reckon with in Thiruvananthapuram. Combined with the apolitical and urban middle-class voters, these could determine the constituency’s electoral preferences.

The contentious issues surrounding the fisherfolk, including the agitation against the Vizhinjam international seaport project that flared up two years ago, could determine the voting pattern along the coastal belt. While a significant section influenced by the Latin Catholic Church harbours resentment towards the LDF government despite the cases registered against the protesters being withdrawn, the community has not taken kindly to Dr. Tharoor’s vehement backing for the project.

Church and temple

Despite its efforts to build bridges with the community, the NDA also recently came in for veiled criticism, with the Church flagging the increasing attacks on Christians and the growing intolerance towards minorities in general in the country.

While the NDA will look to consolidate the majority vote bank by utilising the consecration of the Ram temple in Ayodhya as a poll plank, it is bound to adopt a cautious stance, fearing the possibility of antagonising the Muslim community.

On the other hand, both the United Democratic Front (UDF) and the LDF have been banking on the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Act as well as the Centre’s stance towards the armed conflict between Palestine and Israel to galvanise the vote base.

The constituency has a total electorate of 14,03,281 people including 7,27,469 women, 6,75,771 men and 41 transgender people, according to the final electoral list published in January.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.