Engrossing battle between a veteran, newbie and a turncoat in this reserved constituency

Engrossing battle between a veteran, newbie and a turncoat in this reserved constituency

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UDF candidate Kodikunnil Suresh, MP during electioneering in Mavelikara Lok Sabha constituency. File.
| Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

It is no exaggeration to say that the Mavelikara (SC reserved) Lok Sabha constituency is in for an engrossing poll battle.

The Parliament segment is spread across three districts of Alappuzha, Kollam and Kottayam and covers seven Assembly constituencies from low-lying Kuttanad to Pathanapuram.

The key question is whether the electorate votes for continuity or change in the upcoming polls.

While the Congress-led UDF is hoping to maintain its dominance, the CPI(M)-led LDF is keen on wresting the seat, which it last won in 2004. The BJP-led NDA, which fared reasonably well in 2019, is a force to reckon with in Mavelikara.

Mostly Congress

Historically the constituency is not considered a bastion of anyone but has mostly supported the UDF and the Congress. Since its inception in 1962, Mavelikara has elected Congress nominees or party-supported candidates 11 times in 15 elections.

It underwent a major delimitation process twice, the last time in 2008 and became a Scheduled Caste (SC) reserved seat following the dissolution of the Adoor Lok Sabha constituency (SC reserved).

After redrawing boundaries, senior Congress leader Kodikunnil Suresh is the only one to have represented Mavelikara in the Lower House winning elections in 2009, 2014 and 2019. In 2019, Mr. Kodikkunnil defeated his nearest rival Chittayam Gopakumar of the CPI by a margin of 61,138 votes. Before moving to Mavelikara, Mr. Kodikunnil had contested from Adoor six times and won four elections.

The Congress veteran initially expressed his intention to stay out of the fray in 2024 but later heeded the party’s call and is now gunning for a fourth consecutive victory from Mavelikara.

The LDF has fielded a young face, C.A. Arunkumar of the CPI, to wrest the seat. Mr. Arunkumar, an All India Youth Federation leader, was the additional private secretary to Agriculture Minister P. Prasad.

Hoping to build on its good performance in 2019, the NDA has fielded Congress turncoat Baiju Kalasala. Mr. Kalasala is contesting the poll under the BDJS banner.

While the UDF seeks votes based on good works done in the past 15 years, the LDF and NDA highlight a lack of development during the period.

Crises in the paddy, rubber, and cashew sectors and human-animal conflicts are some of the major talking points on the electioneering front. That said, the caste and religious equations will be the key elements deciding the poll as various Christian organisations, the NSS and the SNDP Yogam hold sway over the constituency.

Apart from Kuttanad and Pathanapuram, the Mavelikara Lok Sabha seat comprises Chengannur, Mavelikara (SC reserved), Kottarakara, Kunnathur (SC Reserved) and Changanasserry Assembly segments.

The UDF, in 2019, secured leads in all the seven constituencies. The LDF, however, turned the table in the 2021 Assembly polls winning all seven segments. What gives confidence to the NDA is that it increased its votes from 79,743 in 2014 to 1,33,546 in 2019.

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