Battle for Kerala | Infographics

While Congress-led UDF seeks to repeat its stellar show in 2019 Lok Sabha elections in Kerala, the Left front is using its organisational strengths to outshine rivals. Seeking to queer the pitch for both these fronts is BJP-led NDA which has made it a triangular fight in at least a few seats. Who will have the last laugh?

Updated - April 16, 2024 01:28 pm IST

Published - April 15, 2024 04:00 pm IST

As Kerala goes to polls on April 26, 2024, the effort of the United Democratic Front (UDF) led by the Congress party is to repeat the stellar show put up by it in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections when it secured a win in 19 of the 20 Lok Sabha constituencies in Kerala.

However, it dropped to 18 when a key ally in central Kerala, the Kerala Congress (Mani) which won the Kottayam seat, switched sides and helped the Left Democratic Front (LDF) led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] put up a good show in the 2021 Kerala Assembly elections in the central Travancore region where the KC(M) wields considerable influence in the Christian community.

Fast forward to 2024, anti-incumbency against the Kerala government is said to be at play, but the Left front is using its organisational strengths to canvass for votes and do as well as it did back in 2004 when it secured a win in 17 seats.

Seeking to queer the pitch for both these fronts is the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has made it a triangular fight in at least a few seats.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi is seeking another term from Wayanad, while Prime Minister Narendra Modi is making frequent campaign visits to Kerala hoping to help his party open its account in Kerala. But top leaders of the CPI(M) and the Congress emphatically say that the BJP will continue to draw a blank. 

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Constituencies in northern Kerala witnessed heavy polling in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections while the same enthusiasm was not shared by voters in southern parts of Kerala.

Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi who contested from Wayanad secured the highest-ever margin in the Lok Sabha elections in Kerala. A.M. Ariff, the sole Left candidate to get elected to Parliament from Kerala in 2019, recorded the lowest victory margin.

Incumbents in fray

The Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) has chosen to field all sitting MPs except Thrissur MP T.N. Prathapan in the 2024 general elections. Thomas Chazhikadan of Kerala Congress (M) won the 2019 elections from Kottayam as the UDF candidate, but with his party aligning with the Left Democratic Front (LDF) now, he is seeking another term from the same constituency as the Left front candidate. Congress’s Kodikunnil Suresh is seeking his eighth term in the Lok Sabha from Mavelikara.

Big fights

A close fight is on the cards in most constituencies, but a few have hogged national attention thanks to the profile of the candidates. The battle for Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala’s capital, is expected to go down to the wire. In the fray are three-time MP and Congressman Shashi Tharoor, technocrat and BJP’s Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar and CPI veteran Pannian Raveendran. 

Former Kerala Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac of the CPI(M) is seeking to wrest Pathanamthitta from Congress’s three-time MP Anto Antony. Veteran Congress leader A.K. Antony’s son, Anil K. Antony, is the BJP candidate.

Thrissur is poised for a nail-biting triangular contest with the CPI’s V.S. Sunil Kumar, Congress’s K. Muraleedharan and BJP’s ator-turned-politician Suresh Gopi carrying out an all-out campaign in this central Kerala constituency.

Vadakara in the north has former Minister K.K. Shailaja of the CPI(M) taking on Congress’s Shafi Parambil and BJP’s C.R. Praphul Krishnan.

In Wayanad, former Congress president Rahul Gandhi is contesting against CPI’s Annie Raja and BJP’s Kerala State president K. Surendran.

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