Attingal | No room for complacency in this high-stakes constituency

Updated - April 03, 2024 04:40 pm IST

Published - March 27, 2024 12:28 am IST - THIRUVANANTHAPURAM

Attingal has witnessed it all. Forts have been breached and giants have fallen here that there is no room for complacency even for those who seem to be in complete control.

Back in 1721, the East India Company was sitting rather pretty when the local population launched an uprising, destroyed the company’s troops and took control of the Anchuthengu fort, in what came to be known as the Attingal Revolt.

In the political arena too, similar unexpected defeats have taken place, like that of former Chief Minister R. Sankar in 1967 to the Communist Party of India (Marxist)‘s K. Anirudhan or that of the CPI(M)‘s Susheela Gopalan to the Congress’ Thalekkunnil Basheer.

CPI(M) incumbent A. Sampath went into the elections of 2019 with the confidence of three past victories in a constituency which had remained a Left citadel since 1991, only to taste defeat to Congress’ Adoor Prakash by over 40,000 votes.

But then, the Congress party’s confidence of having breached the Left’s stronghold was short-lived, as the Left Democratic Front swept all the seven Assembly segments of Attingal in the Assembly elections of 2021. The 2019 Lok Sabha election was marked by a Statewide United Democratic Front wave galvanised by Rahul Gandhi’s candidature from Wayanad.

The Bharatiya Janata Party also made major gains with a campaign centred on the protest against the entry of women to Sabarimala, as Sobha Surendran increased the party’s vote share from 10% to 24% in 2019.

Five years later, many of these factors are no longer at play. In the fray are the incumbent MP, a Union Minister, and a sitting MLA, making it an almost unpredictable and tight contest.

With a resolve to reclaim its bastion, the LDF has fielded sitting MLA and CPI(M) district secretary V.Joy, who wrested the Varkala segment from the Congress in 2021. His familiarity in these parts, having served at the panchayat, block panchayat, and district panchayat levels, also tilted the scales in favour of his candidature.

With the Congress deciding to field incumbent MPs in most constituencies, Mr. Prakash has started his campaign focussing on the need for continuity. Buoyed by the massive improvement in vote share in 2019, the BJP has classified Attingal as one of its ‘A-class’ constituencies in Kerala and fielded Union Minister of State for External Affairs V.Muraleedharan. It has been a plan long in the works as he has been making it a point to spend time in the constituency frequently over the past few years.

The Attingal constituency came into existence in 2008 after the dissolution of the Chirayinkeezhu constituency and a reshuffle of the Assembly segments. Religious and caste equations will come into play in a constituency which is home to Sivagiri, and where the Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam as well as the Nair Service Society has a strong presence.

Several pockets have a considerable population of minorities, with issues such as the Citizenship (Amendment) Act getting some play in campaign rhetoric.

The Attingal constituency comprises seven Assembly segments, namely Varkala, Attingal, Chirayinkeezhu, Nedumangad, Vamanapuram, Aruvikkara, and Kattakada. The total electorate is 13,73,827, including 7,31,870 women, 6,41,938 men, and 19 transgender persons.

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