Thiruvananthapuram, March 27 (IANS) Will it be eighth time lucky for the Congress-led UDF in Kerala’s Attingal Lok Sabha constituency that it last won 30 years ago in 1989? The party is certainly hoping so, having fielded two-time former Minister and incumbent legislator Adoor Prakash, whom it considers one of its best candidates.
Since 1989, the Congress has tried to wrest the seat by fielding heavyweights like M.M. Hassan, M.I. Shanavas, G. Balachandran and Bindhu Krishna, only to finish second as veteran Varkala Radhakrishnan, after a hat-trick of victories, passed the mantle to the then young A. Sampath, who first won in 1996 and then again in 2009 and 2014.
Incidentally, the 56-year-old Sampath, who has again been fielded by the CPI-M, is a proven parliamentarian who has won admiration for his stint in the Lok Sabha. He is said to be popular in the constituency. His father K. Anirudhan won the seat in 1967.
The BJP sprang a surprise when it brought in 45-year-old Sobha Surendran, known for her razor-sharp tongue and hard-hitting speeches and who has been the BJP’s face on television in the state.
While the advantage of being a resident rests with Sampath, Prakash, 63, is a five-time legislator from Konni in Pathanamthitta district and is known for maintaining very cordial relations, especially with Vellapally Natesan, the General Secretary of the powerful Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana (SNDP) Yogam, the socio cultural body of the Hindu Ezhava community.
But with all the three candidates hailing from the Ezhava community, who dominate the constituency, none of them can easily claim they have the edge. It is here that Prakash has a slight advantage – of being very close to Natesan.
The constituency has a sizeable Muslim population. This time, a shift in the community’s voting could be the clincher.
Sampath, however, remains confident that when he won the 2014 polls defeating Bindhu Krishna by a margin of 69,378 votes. In 2016, Left Democratic Front candidates won in six of the seven segments that form the Attingal Lok Sabha constituency.
But Adoor Prakash and the Congress maintain that they will be able to build on the ‘familiarity breeds contempt’ concept that will work against Sampath.
Sampath seems to know he will have to sweat it out this time. He is doing just that.
Surendran, the first woman from the BJP’s Kerala unit to be inducted into the party’s national executive, knows she has an uphill task ahead but is upbeat.
She hopes the saffron outfit’s tooth-and-nail struggle to protect the traditions and culture of the famed Sabarimala temple after the apex court opened it to women in all ages will benefit her.
In the 2014 polls, the BJP candidate in Attingal secured 90,395 votes against 391,346 by Sampath and 321,540 by Congress candidate Bindhu Krishna.