Kerala’s two southern districts can be crucial in polls

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Thiruvananthapuram, April 27 (IANS) The southern districts of Kollam and Alappuzha could play a decisive role in the overall outcome of the May 16 Kerala assembly elections and also play spoilsport to the traditional rival fronts.

In the 2011 assembly polls, the Left Democratic Front (LDF) led by the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) had a very easy outing, winning 16 of the 20 seats in these two districts.

The setback the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) suffered in these two districts saw its overall tally shrink to a mere 72 seats in the 140-member assembly, while the LDF got 68 seats.

Kollam has 11 assembly seats and Alappuzha nine. The now ruling United Democratic Front led by the Congress won just two seats each in the two districts.

Both the districts have always been considered a strong citadel of the Left, with the CPI-M, Communist Party of India (CPI) and the erstwhile Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) having a strong support base.

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Ever since the RSP moved over to the UDF and its candidate N.K. Premachandran defeated CPI-M politburo member and legislator M.A. Baby in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the Congress-led front appears to be breathing easy as the RSP has a reasonable presence in constituencies in Kollam.

The UDF camp has another reason for cheer. Opposition to the CPI-M in both these districts grew a bit more after close loyalists of former chief minister V.S. Achuthanandan were booted out of the party list.

Among those booted out by the CPI-M were a stalwart like P.K. Gurudasan, a veteran trade union leader and a former minister, in whose place filmstar Mukesh was nominated, and C.K. Sadasivan, the sitting legislator from the Kayamkulam constituency in Alappuzha district.

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The Congress camp is upbeat because this time the candidate selection more or less went off well and without a hitych, and youth and experience were given importance in the party’s candidates lists.

There are quite a few constituencies in Alappuzha district, like Kayamkulam, Ambalapuzha, Chertala Kuttanad and Aroor, where the UDF candidates are putting up a tight fight. The majority of seats from the district are held by the LDF.

Likewise in Kollam district, in constituencies like Kundara, Kollam, Karunagapally and Pathanapuram — all held by the LDF — the fight is heating up like never before.

Another reason for cheer for the UDF in these districts this time appears to be that the Latin church, which has a very strong presence and influence in the two districts, is keeping silent. In the past, it took a tough position against the UDF.

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Yet another factor that may influence the final outcome in the two districts is the impact of the new political party — BDJS of the Hindu Ezhava leader Velapally Natesan. He has a huge support base in both districts though the BDJS has allied with the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

It remains to be seen which of the two rival fronts stands to gain in the electoral presence of the BDJS.

With under three weeks to go for the polls, two districts could well become the rallying point for the rival fronts as poll campaign reaches a crescendo in the days to come.

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