Kerala

Tantalising finish expected in Nedumangad

Poovathoor, a sleepy hamlet in Nedumangad Municipality that adjoins the Vembayam grama panchayat, presents an uneventful picture that is devoid of any trappings of an election only a week away.

A small bunch of people lazing around outside a tea-shop, some others going about their routine activities, a motorcycle that navigates the bumpy, stone-infested kutcha road occasionally – all of which could suggest the village has seemingly insulated itself from the poll fever. Barring the numerous banners and flex boards of candidates that dot the streets, the ‘new normal’ of electioneering was replete with the absence of shrill mike announcements.

Such sights were, however, just a facade covering a fierce electoral contest that is headed for a tantalising finish in Nedumangad municipality that has been a stronghold of the Left Democratic Front (LDF) for two-and-a-half decades.

Poovathoor is one of five wards – Tharatta, Manakode, Market and Perayathumkonam being the others - in the 39-seat strong municipality that will have sitting councillors competing against each other. Besides, it will witness a triangular contest among political heavyweights.

CPI’s Lekha Vikraman, who was vice-chairperson in the outgoing council, hopes to maintain her seat by braving a stiff challenge posed by KPCC executive committee member Vattappara Chandran, a six-time councillor who was also part of the founding council in 1980, and BJP State council member Poovathoor Jayan.

While she betted heavily on efforts in renovating a school and primary health centre nearby as well as other water supply and infrastructure projects, her rivals have flagged the lack of efforts to develop the Vedarukkonam-Narikkal road that has posed immense difficulty for several residents in the region.

The reservation of the office of the municipal chairperson for women candidates belonging to Scheduled Castes (SC) category prompted each coalition to change tack while finalising candidates. While the scenario forced many sitting councillors to vacate ‘safe seats’, some others had to drop out of the race.

Currently, two of the wards reserved for SC Women – Paramuttom and Netta – are considered strongholds of the United Democratic Front (UDF) which has fielded three-time councillor J. Geetha and M.R. Meera respectively.

Possibly pre-empting adverse results in these seats that could leave the coalition wanting an eligible chairperson-candidate, the LDF has fielded CPI (M)’s youth leader Rajika S. in the Mannoorkonam seat that has been reserved for SC candidates. The BJP has projected its sitting councillor Vinodini S., who will contest from the Netta ward, as its chairperson-hopeful.

Having been able to evade any rebel menace, each coalition have commenced at least five rounds of campaigning that is bound to pick up on Thursday with district authorities lifting restrictions on the use of microphones for announcements.

The absence of high-profile star campaigners and large conventions, owing to the pandemic, has left parties to find new avenues on the social media to garner support for its candidates.

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Printable version | Jan 22, 2021 6:49:22 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/tantalising-finish-expected-in-nedumangad/article33233340.ece

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