Chalakudy constituency | A keen tussle on the cards in Congress bastion

The United Democratic Front (UDF) has entrusted sitting MP Benny Behanan with the task of retaining the seat while the Left Democratic Front (LDF) is making an attempt to breach the Congress bastion by fielding C. Raveendranath, former Minister for Education.

Updated - April 05, 2024 11:14 am IST

Published - April 04, 2024 11:24 pm IST - KOCHI

An interesting battle is on the cards in the Chalakudy Lok Sabha constituency that has mostly remained a traditional stronghold of the Congress.

The United Democratic Front (UDF) has entrusted sitting MP Benny Behanan with the task of retaining the seat while the Left Democratic Front (LDF) is making an attempt to breach the Congress bastion by fielding C. Raveendranath, former Minister for Education.

K.A. Unnikrishnan of the Bharath Dharma Jana Sena(BDJS), an ally of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), and Charlie Paul of the Twenty20 are trying to make dents in a seemingly bipolar contest involving the LDF and the UDF.

Nestled between Ernakulam and Thrissur districts, Chalakudy became a Lok Sabha constituency in 2008 after delimitation by dissolving Mukundapuram. It comprises three Assembly segments in Thrissur (Kaipamangalam, Chalakudy and Kodungalloor) and four in Ernakulam (Perumbavoor, Angamaly, Aluva and Kunnathunadu).

Some of the political heavyweights that represented Mukundapuram in the Lok Sabha included Panampilly Govinda Menon, K. Karunakaran, and E. Balanandan. In the 13 elections till the formation of Chalakudy Lok Sabha constituency in 2008, Left or Left-backed candidates had only won three times. The UDF had kept his seat intact for two of the three elections held since 2009.

In 2014, the constituency witnessed a shift in electoral fortunes favouring the Left after actor-turned-politician Innocent, who contested as an Independent candidate of the LDF, defeated P.C. Chacko of the Congress by 13, 884 votes.

The UDF camp was confident in asking Mr. Behanan to go for a re-run after he wrested the seat from Innocent by a huge margin of 1,32,274 votes following a political wave in favour of the UDF in 2019. Though a staunch loyalist of the late Congress leader Oommen Chandy, he enjoyed the backing of party leaders, irrespective of group affiliations.

The LDF is banking on the genial face of Mr. Raveendranath to breach the Congress stronghold. He had represented Kodakara (2006) and Puthukkad (2011 and 2016) in the State Assembly. Mr. Unnikrishnan of the NDA had served as vice-chairman of the Rubber Board and had contested the Assembly election from Chalakudy in 2021.

A prohibitionist, Mr. Paul of the Twenty20 is a lawyer practising in the Kerala High Court.

Though the UDF and LDF seem keen to make the survival of democracy as the key poll plank in this election, local issues, including the impact of wildlife-human conflict on the livelihood of tribal communities, and the dwindling prospects of farmers and fisherfolk remain a talking point.

The leading fronts are clueless on how the minority votes will swing this time. Poll managers of the UDF and the LDF are also confused about the impact of the support base enjoyed by the Twenty20 in the Kunnathunad and Perumbavoor Assembly constituencies on their vote share.

The UDF was able to increase its vote share from 38.93% in 2014 to 47.8% in 2019 while the LDF’s figures dipped from 40.5% in 2014 to 34.45% in 2019. The NDA increased its vote share from 10.49% in 2014 to 15.56% in 2019. Of the seven Assembly constituencies, the UDF won in four, including Chalakudy, Angamaly, Aluva and Perumbavoor, in the election held in 2021 while the LDF bagged Kaipamangalam, Kodungalloor and Kunnathunad.

There are 12,84,975 electorate in Chalakudy, including 6,62,819 women, 6,22,136 men, and 20 transgender voters.

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