National

It is political violence vs development in Kasaragod constituency

The pollscape here hardly promises breathtaking vistas of peaks and valleys of election fortunes. The poll history of this northernmost constituency in the State is not without surprise upshots either.

It is political violence vs development in Kasaragod constituency

What was a strong bastion of the Communist movement, Kasaragod had elected communists in 12 out of 15 Parliament elections held since 1957 when the constituency was formed.

Political loyalties being a major factor driving electoral preferences here, the possibility of unpredictability in poll outcomes has its limits. That said, the results in the past three Lok Sabha elections show that Kasaragod is not immune to electoral vagaries.

The campaign team of UDF candidate Rajmohan Unnithan believes that a small swing in votes can work in his favour. It is true as the victory margin of CPI(M) leader P. Karunakaran, who won the seat in the past three general elections, plunged from 1.07 lakh in 2004 and 64,427 in 2009 to 6,921 in 2014 when the UDF fielded young Congress leader T. Siddique. The LDF camp says that suave CPI(M) leader K.P. Satheesh Chandran is a vote-winner.

Talking point

The murders of Youth Congress workers at Periye last month by alleged CPI(M) workers dominate the campaign in the constituency.

While the Unnithan campaign seeks to appeal to the public outrage in the aftermath of the murders, the rival camp highlights developmental achievements such as the hill highway, NH widening, roads built under KIIFB, among others.

The constituency is no stranger to surprise wins. The 1971 victory of 26-year-old Kadannappally Ramachandran, then in the Congress, over CPI(M) stalwart E.K. Nayanar by a margin of 28,000-odd votes is in the realm of election folklore here. He managed to repeat his win in 1977 with lesser votes. The only Congress leader to have won the seat since then was T. Rama Rai, in 1984.

The Udma, Kanhanagd, Trikkarippur, Payyannur, and Kalliassery segments are strongholds of the LDF, while the UDF has edge in Manjeswaram and Kasaragod. The 2016 Assembly election results show that the LDF has a lead of over 72,000 votes.

The LDF controls 30 of the 55 grama panchayats, and three of the four municipalities in the constituency.

While the sizeable chunk of Muslim voters is the strength of the UDF here, the BJP, which has fielded Ravish Tantri Kuntar, pins its hopes on linguistic minorities in the northern parts of the district.

The constituency has a total electorate of 13,24,387 including 636689 male, 687696 female and two transgender voters.

Source: thehindu.com

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