Kerala bypolls: Acid test for 3 in Vattiyoorkavu

Source: India Abroad News Service

Thiruvananthapuram, Oct 5 (IANS) If there’s one Assembly constituency in Kerala that is seeing a close and tough fight among three political aspirants, then it is the upcountry Vattiyoorkavu seat in the state capital.

Five Assembly seats have bypolls on October 21, but it is Vattiyoorkavu which is grabbing attention.

In the fray for what could be a fight to the finish include former Congress Legislator K. Mohankumar, Thiruvananthapuram Mayor and youth CPI-M leader V.K. Prasanth, and District Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President S. Suresh.

All of them are no strangers to the electorate in the constituency and each of them has advantages to show.

The seat was vacated by Congress veteran K. Muraleedharan, son of four-time Chief Minister K. Karunakaran, who successfully contested the Vadakara Lok Sabha constituency.

Muraleedharan had won the Vattiyoorkavu Assembly seat easily in 2011 and 2016, though in 2016 he got a tough fight from the BJP leader Kummanem Rajasekheran.

Congress’s Mohankumar in 2001 became a giant killer when he trounced the then Assembly Speaker and CPI-M leader M. Vijayakumar at the Thiruvananthapuram North Assembly seat, which following delimitation is now known as Vattiyoorkavu Assembly constituency.

But in 2006 Vijayakumar won the seat and Mohan Kumar went back to the organisational politics.

“The biggest advantage I have is that I know this constituency like the back of my hand, besides, I know practically a good number of my voters quite well. My campaign has been systematically going on forward and with more than two more weeks left, I am confident, my campaign is all set to peak. This is our sitting seat and that’s an advantage,” said Mohankumar.

CPI-M’s Prasanth, aged 38, the youngest of the three, was handpicked by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who felt that the best bet to wrest this constituency would be the youthful Mayor.

“The response that I am getting from all is tremendous because I am no stranger to the people here. Right from day one, I am getting positive vibes from all those I met. I will say that the people of this constituency have literally taken forward my campaign and am quite confident that this seat would be taken back,” said Prasanth.

But BJP’s Suresh, aged 39, biggest forte is that it was under his stewardship as the Thiruvananthapuram district party chief, that in 2016 BJP veteran O. Rajagopal won the first seat in the 140-member Kerala Assembly.

Another highlight about him is that in 2015, in the Thiruvananthapuram Corporation, for the first time the BJP raised its tally, which pushed the Congress-led UDF into the third position, and became the principal Opposition.

His organisational skills were also noticed when Rajasekheran quit as Mizoram Governor to contest the recent Lok Sabha polls and managed to edge out the Left candidate to the third position, though the Congress candidate Shashi Tharoor registered a hat trick by close to a lakh vote margin win.

“We do have a sound voter base here and it has been proved in the Assembly and Lok Sabha polls, when our candidate finished second. Besides, our rivals have ignored taking up the development activities here. People understand this and from the responses I am getting, things are looking ominous for them,” said Suresh.

Emerging as a critical factor is the Hindu Nair vote bank, which over the years has by and large been the strength of the Congress candidates. Both Mohankumar and Suresh belong to the Hindu Nair community, Prasanth belongs to the Hindu Ezhava community.

Also crucial is going to be the way the minority communities, Muslims and Christians are going to vote. In the Lok Sabha elections Tharoor saw his lead swell from 15,000 in 2014 to almost a lakh votes in 2019, which showed that the minorities voted for him.

During the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Tharoor had the lowest lead of less than 3,000 votes from this seat among the seven Assembly constituencies of the Lok Sabha seat. This is an indication of the tough fight that Vattiyoorkavu is going to witness.

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