Keen battle on the cards in Pathanamthitta constituency

It will be a tight battle between the UDF which has long held an upper hand over the region, and the LDF which has been on an ascent in the region since 2016

Updated - March 31, 2024 12:11 am IST

Published - March 28, 2024 07:20 am IST - PATHANAMTHITTA

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The recent summer showers might have helped Pathanamthitta restore a semblance of its usual tranquillity amidst a searing summer. But the mercury level on its ground has caught up with the election heat elsewhere, thanks to an intense fight that the seat is witnessing this time.

A plethora of issues, ranging from the relentless onslaught of wildlife to pressing matters of development, land titles, and agricultural woes, swirl within the region’s political arena long before the official announcement of elections. At the same time, this also happens to be a battle where pressure groups other than the political parties do have their roles to play.

The United Democratic Front (UDF), which has long held an upper hand over the region, is taking no chances and has reposed its faith once again in Anto Antony — the Congress veteran who has represented the seat for three consecutive terms since 2009. The Left Democratic Front (LDF), which has been on an ascent in the region since 2016 and currently holds all seven assembly segments in the constituency, has brought in the CPI(M) central committee member T.M. Thomas Isaac to seize the coveted victory.

The National Democratic Alliance (NDA), led by the BJP, considerably improved its vote share last time on the back of the Sabarimala protests. It has fielded its national secretary Anil K. Antony, son of the senior congress leader A.K. Antony.

The constituency, consisting of seven assembly segments namely Poonjar, Kanjirappally, Ranni, Aranmula, Konni, Adoor, and Thiruvalla, has a total electorate of 14.08 lakh. In the previous election, the UDF polled 37.11 % of the total votes polled here. The LDF candidate finished second with 32.80 %votes while the BJP, riding high on the Sabarimala protests, saw its vote share go to 28.97 % from just 6.46 % in 2014.

Like in the previous election of 2019, Sabarimala holds a significant place in the campaign planks of both the UDF and the NDA, although its appeal among the Hindu upper castes may not be as emotional. The LDF, on its part, has deployed the theme of all-round development to counter the anti-left narratives.

The robust organizational structure continues to be the cornerstone of the Left’s strategy, while the UDF pins its hopes on the perceived anti-Left sentiment prevalent in the region. For the BJP, the arrival of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and recent defections from the Congress may have added to its rising appeal. Yet, questions linger regarding its organizational efficiency and purported differences over candidate selection.

Among the factors varying from faith to farming and development, the stance of the dominant Christian communities too will have a considerable impact on the final outcome. For instance, the Catholic church serves as the predominant pressure group in at least two assembly segments—Poonjar and Kanjirappally. In the remaining area, factions such as the Malankara Orthodox church and the Malankara Marthoma Syrian church etc. hold the sway.

Fully cognizant of the high stakes, the coalitions tread cautiously across a complex landscape marked by both consolidation and discontent. The intensity of their commitment is palpable in the whirlwind of campaign activity engulfing this fertile land.

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