Kerala Assembly elections 2021: Constituency Watch

Kovalam has no extreme loyalty

Having navigated between the United Democratic Front (UDF) and the Left Democratic Front (LDF) for two decades, the Kovalam Assembly constituency has presented choppy waters for both coalitions during the upcoming polls.

Swim against the tide

The segment is also known to swim against the tide by defying popular waves that normally sweep across the rest of the State.

A formation of predominantly coastal villages, the constituency witnessed stiff competition in the previous Assembly elections in 2016 when M. Vincent of the Congress defeated the then incumbent MLA Jameela Prakasam of the Janata Dal (Secular) [JD(S)] by a margin of 2,615 votes.

Five years earlier, Ms. Prakasam had trounced the UDF’s sitting MLA George Mercier by 7,205 votes.

Mr. Mercier had previously wrested the segment for the Congress from Ms. Prakasam’s husband and three-time MLA and former Minister A. Neelalohithadasan Nadar in 2006.

Nadar community votes

A politically unpredictable segment, Kovalam’s electoral outcomes are known to hinge on caste and communal undercurrents.

Key to the outcome of the electoral battle here is the influential Nadar community.

Known for its mercurial nature, the community had backed the LDF in Neyyattinkara and Kattakkada in 2016, even while contributing to Mr. Vincent’s victory in Kovalam.

The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has emerged as a decisive force in the region of late.

While Venganoor Satheesh of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) could only win 7.3% of the votes polled in 2011, Bharath Dharma Jana Sena (BDJS) candidate Kovalam T.N. Suresh capitalised on the sizeable Ezhava presence in the constituency to win 30,987 votes, i.e. 20.13% of the total votes.

The coalition also managed to win 31,990 votes from the region at the 2020 local body polls.

Crucial issues

A host of issues including the LDF government’s handling of the crisis triggered by Cyclone Ockhi and its now-cancelled agreement with a U.S. firm to build a deep-sea fishing fleet are bound to figure in the election campaigns.

It also remains to be seen if the government’s decision to extend the Other Backward Classes (OBC) reservation to the Nadar Christian community will have any impact at the hustings.

The delay in realising the Vizhinjam seaport project could also crop up.

The constituency comprises Balaramapuram, Kalliyoor and Venganoor panchayats in Thiruvananthapuram taluk, and Balaramapuram, Kanjiramkulam, Karumkulam, Kottukal, Poovar and Vizhinjam panchayats in Neyyattinkara taluk.

It has 2,15,002 registered voters, including 1,05,175 males,1,09,825 females and two transgenders, according to the voters’ list published by the Election Commission on January 20.

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Printable version | Apr 19, 2021 7:42:10 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/kovalam-has-no-extreme-loyalty/article34009467.ece

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