Wednesday, April 17, 2024
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LDF hopes to regain traditional strongholds in north Kerala in Lok Sabha polls

CPI (M) Kerala State Secretary M.V Jayarajan

CPI (M) Kerala State Secretary M.V Jayarajan

Only two constituencies — Wayanad and Malappuram — out of the nine Lok Sabha seats in the six districts in north Kerala appear to give the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) a winnable edge in the upcoming Parliament polls.

Stakes are high in seven other constituencies as the Congress leadership prepares to nominate incumbent MPs, while the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) strategises a swap of sitting MPs in Malappuram and Ponnani constituencies currently held by M.P. Abdussamad Samadani and E.T. Mohammed Basheer respectively.

Though all the nine seats were won by the UDF in the 2019 elections, the Left Democratic Front (LDF), led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI-M], is determined to reclaim its traditional strongholds.

Already, the names of the incumbent legislators, ministers, former MPs, and party district secretaries are doing the rounds for nominations. Rajya Sabha MP and Centre of Indian Trade Unions State general secretary Elamaram Kareem is likely to contest from Kozhikode, while former Health Minister K.K. Shailaja emerges as the frontrunner for Vadakara.

Party district secretaries of Kasaragod and Kannur — M.V. Balakrishnan and M.V. Jayarajan — are the other likely candidates, and Polit Bureau member A. Vijayaraghavan and Minister for Devaswom K. Radhakrishnan are being considered for Palakkad and Alathur constituencies respectively.

The CPI(M) leadership is aware that multiple factors, including an impression that the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance would rout the Narendra Modi government at the Centre, led to the setback in the last Lok Sabha polls. Besides, the decision to support the Supreme Court verdict permitting women of all ages to enter the Lord Ayyappa Temple at Sabarimala was a double-edged sword affecting its electoral fortunes.

The entry of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi contesting from Wayanad had an automatic cascading effect on other constituencies. The late working president of the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee M.I. Shanavas had won the seat by a margin of over 1.5 lakh votes in 2009, but his victory margin came down to 20,000 in 2014. However, Mr. Gandhi won the seat by a margin of more than 4.31 lakh votes.

The Malappuram seat was won by P.K. Kunhalikutty with a margin of over 2.60 lakh votes, but he resigned to contest the Assembly polls in 2021. Mr. Samadani retained the seat but with a margin of less than 1.15 lakh votes in the bypoll. Although Ponnani is considered to be a stronghold of the IUML, the margin of victory has been gradually decreasing for various reasons, including the delimitation of the segment earlier. However, Mr. Basheer had won the seat by over 1.93 lakh votes.

Besides, each constituency had its own issues. In Kozhikode, a news channel had aired visuals in which Congress sitting MP M.K. Raghavan was seen allegedly negotiating bribe in connection with land acquisition for opening a hotel in the city. The allegations backfired, favouring Mr. Raghavan, who won the seat by over 85,000 votes.

Likewise, Kannur, which had the issue of political violence as the central campaign theme in the constituency, saw K. Sudhakaran winning the seat by over 94,000 votes.

The alleged derogatory remark by Mr. Vijayaraghavan against the Congress candidate in Alathur, Ramya Haridas, affected the fortunes the CPI(M) in this reserved segment. She won the seat by a huge margin of 1.58 lakh votes. In the neighbouring segment, V.K. Sreekandan of the Congress managed to win by a margin of 11,000 votes.

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