Kannur | A red citadel that has swung between LDF and UDF

The UDF has renominated its sitting MP K. Sudhakaran while the LDF has fielded CPI(M)‘s Kannur district secretary M.V. Jayarajan

April 03, 2024 05:13 pm | Updated 06:22 pm IST - Kozhikode

Often portrayed as a red citadel, the Kannur Lok Sabha constituency, known for its looms and lore, has been characterised by a series of nuanced shifts in the Lok Sabha elections.

For an extended period, Congress leader Mullappally Ramachandran dominated the political arena, winning five consecutive terms from 1984 to 1998. However, the emergence of A.P. Abdullakutty, then with the Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)], diminished his influence. Mr. Abdullakutty went on to represent the constituency for a decade till 2009 — he defeated Mr. Ramachandran in the general elections in 1999 and 2004.

After delimitation

The delimitation process detached North Wayanad, now Mananthavady, from the Kannur constituency and since the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, electoral fortunes have oscillated between the Congress and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)].

While Congress leader K. Sudhakaran won in 2009, P.K. Sreemathy of the CPI(M) wrested the seat from him in 2014, albeit by a narrow margin of over 6,500 votes. The constituency again witnessed a dramatic reversal in 2019, with Mr. Sudhakaran trouncing Ms. Sreemathy by a huge margin of 94,559 votes.

The Congress has renominated sitting MP Mr. Sudhakaran this time as well despite his initial reluctance to enter the fray, citing his position as the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president. The CPI(M) has chosen its Kannur district secretary, M.V. Jayarajan, a two-time legislator who represented the erstwhile Edakkad segment, to wrest the seat from the Congress.

The BJP, which has come only in a distant third position in the Lok Sabha elections, is experimenting by fielding the former District Congress Committee general secretary C. Raghunath, who joined the party recently. Mr. Reghunath contested against Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan as the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) candidate in the Dharmadam Assembly constituency in the 2021 Assembly polls.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Mr. Sudhakaran benefitted from multiple factors, including Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s candidacy in Wayanad and a campaign against political violence, especially the murder of Youth Congress activist S.P. Shuhaib, allegedly reportedly by CPI(M) workers, near Mattannur in February 2018.

Of the seven Assembly segments in the constituency, Left Democratic Front members emerged victorious in five — Taliparamba, Azhikode, Kannur, Dharmadam, and Mattannur — in the 2021 polls. The remaining two, Irikkur and Peravoor, are represented by UDF members.

Campaign issues

A key campaign issue is the performance of Mr. Sudhakaran as a Parliamentarian. This apart, the development of Kannur International Airport and Kannur railway station and utilisation of funds of the Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme are among the issues being raised.

Although 60% of the voters in the constituency reside in urban areas, the consolidation of rural farmers’ votes generally favours Congress candidates. Kannur’s total electorate is 13,19,627, including 6,93,026 women, 6,26,595 men, and six transgender persons.

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