Heavyweights to slug it out in Kollam constituency

March 27, 2024 09:51 pm | Updated April 03, 2024 04:42 pm IST - KOLLAM

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A seasoned politician, an actor-turned-legislator and a celebrity candidate - the electoral battle in Kollam is expected to be most intense this time with the three fronts working relentlessly to bolster their poll prospects. The constituency has over 21,03,448 voters belonging to seven assembly segments including Chavara, Punalur, Chadayamangalam, Kundara, Kollam, Eravipuram and Chathannur. With all the three major candidates hitting the campaign trail in right earnest, electioneering in the constituency has now entered a feverish pitch. Considered a Left bastion, the votes of coastal communities and cashew workers will be crucial in setting the tone in Kollam.

While sitting MP and Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) leader N. K. Premachadram is keeping his fingers crossed for a hat-trick in Kollam, it’s also a perform-or-perish situation for his party. In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls he had bagged a whopping 4,99,667 votes and defeated CPI (M) heavyweight and current Finance Minister K. N. Balagopal by a margin of nearly 1.5 lakh. It was his second term representing Kollam after RSP severed its ties with the LDF in 2014. Apart from his consecutive electoral victories, Mr. Premachandran had been in the spotlight for his parliamentary interventions and UDF expects one of the highest margins from Kollam. As in 2019, his political opponents are spreading speculations of defection, especially after Mr. Premachandran attending a luncheon hosted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

For LDF, recapturing Kollam after two back-to-back defeats is a top priority and two-time CPI(M) legislator M. Mukesh has been handpicked for the job. He has built his campaign completely around the development initiatives in Kollam assembly constituency and the multiple welfare schemes launched by the State government. The challenge is to wrest the constituency from Premachandran who had defeated two senior CPI(M) leaders like K. N. Balagopal and M. A. Baby in the past, which is no easy task. While LDF plans to bank on his popularity as an actor and easy camaraderie with the masses, Mr .Mukesh was also the first to hit the campaign trail in Kollam.

BJP’s G. Krishnakumar, who had contested the last Assembly polls for the Thiruvananthapuram seat, was the last to enter the electoral fray in Kollam. In 2019 CPI (M) leadership had raised a major allegation that Kollam was among the few constituencies in Kerala where BJP and Congress had struck a deal for vote trading. Despite having around 1.5 lakh votes, V.K. Sabu, a less-prominent leader who had no connection with constituency, was fielded. His candidature and the low-key campaigning had generated much resentment among BJP workers, but this time the picture is different. While full-scale electioneering has begun for the star candidate, the party leadership also seems confident that there will be a substantial improvement in the 10.6 vote share of last Lok Sabha polls.

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