Lok Sabha poll | Thrissur: High-profile candidates, unpredictable electorate

Updated - April 04, 2024 12:56 pm IST

Published - April 03, 2024 11:39 pm IST - Thrissur

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Election fever had gripped Thrissur much before its announcement. Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself launched the National Democratic Alliance’s campaign here in January.

Soon, graffities started appearing for sitting MP T.N. Prathapan of the United Democratic Front, former Agriculture Minister V.S. Sunil Kumar of the Left Democratic Front, and actor-turned politician Suresh Gopi of the NDA.

Then the Congress replaced Mr. Prathapan with K. Muraleedharan. This came against the backdrop of Mr. Muraleedharan’s sister Padmaja Venugopal migrating to the BJP from the Congress.

With three high-profile candidates in the mix, Thrissur is one of the keenly-watched constituencies in Kerala. However, not only the high-profile candidates, but its highly unpredictable political history too draws attention.

The political history of the Thrissur Lok Sabha constituency is full of anti-climaxes. In the past six elections, sitting MPs/parties had tasted defeat here. The electorate kept the parties on tenterhooks by shifting its loyalty between the LDF and the UDF. It has a history of defeating K. Karunakaran, Mr. Muraleedharan, and Padmaja Venugopal in the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections.

From 1952 to 2019, Thrissur stood with the LDF 10 times, including the victory of Communist Party of India (CPI)’s V.V. Raghavan over Karunakaran by 1,480 votes in 1996. UDF candidates have been elected from the constituency seven times.

If the past two Assembly elections are any indication, the LDF has an upper hand in Thrissur. It emerged victorious in all the seven constituencies — Guruvayur, Manalur, Ollur, Thrissur, Nattika, Irinjalakuda, Puthukkad — in the 2021 elections. However, the electoral fortunes used to differ in the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections.

The last-minute entry of Mr. Muraleedharan has transformed the political dynamics in Thrissur. Mr. Muraleedharan, historically, never had a smooth political ride here. He had suffered a jolt twice before. In the 1998 Lok Sabha election, he was defeated by the CPI’s V.V. Raghavan. In  2004, he lost from the Wadakkanchery Assembly constituency, when he was the Power Minister.  

CPI’s V.S. Sunil Kumar is a familiar face in the constituency. He had won from the Thrissur Assembly constituency in 2016 and from Kaipamangalam in 2011.

The Bharatiya Janata Party had its best performance in Thrissur through Mr. Suresh Gopi in the 2019 Lok Sabha election. He got 2,93,822 votes (28.19%), which was 17% more than the former election. The two consecutive visits of Mr. Modi emphasise the importance given by the BJP to Thrissur.

The multi-crore Karuvannur Service Cooperative Bank loan scam is one of the key campaign issues in the constituency.

Getting the caste and community equations right has always been a challenge for the parties here. There has always been a religious subtext to the verdict in Thrissur, which has 35% Christian and 16% Muslim voters.

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