THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: With the high voltage campaign now coming to an end, the prestigious Vattiyoorkavu constituency is all set for mother of all electoral battles quite literally.
The rival fronts UDF, LDF and NDA have fielded formidable candidates, setting the stage for a close triangular battle. K Muraleedharan whose election as Vadakara MP necessitated the bypoll, had won from Vattiyoorkavu constituency in 2016 by a margin of 7,622 votes polling a total of 51,322 votes. BJP’s Kummanam Rajashekharan secured 43,700 votes while T N Seema of CPM came third polling – 40,441
The LDF decision to field a popular leader like Mayor V.K. Prasanth has made the electoral battle interesting. On the other hand UDF’s K Mohankumar is a veteran with good connections in the constituency and BJP’s S. Suresh who replaced Kummanam, is a the party’s organisational face in Thiruvananthapuram district. In the absence of a wave, the rival fronts are making claims and counter claims about victory.
By fielding Prasanth, the ruling LDF has introduced the best possible candidate who knows the city like the back of his hand. Despite being in minority, the Mayor managed to run the corporation affairs successfully bringing in many development projects in city. The leadership given by him for collecting relief material for flood affected areas and clean image are being highlighted by the CPM.
The Congress is confident of a good show on the strength of its candidate Mohankumar who represented Trivandrum North constituency. His political experience as DCC president, down to earth personality and clean image are being portrayed to woo voters. The campaign by Oommen Chandy, Muralee-dharan and Shashi Tharoor has galvanised the cadre.
On the other hand, the BJP had some starting trouble in finalising the candidate. Kumanam Rajashek-haran was the hot favourite initially but the party decided to field Suresh. Being the district BJP president, he commands the support from the ordinary party workers.
Having tasted success during Lok Sabha polls, both the Congress and BJP have raised the Sabarimala issue. However, observers say Sabarimala may not have much impact.
Many say it is difficult to gauge the voter behaviour in Vattiyoorkavu this time. With NSS coming out openly in support of UDF, caste became a major poll issue during campaign. The CPM filed a complaint with EC accusing the UDF and NSS of invoking caste to solicit votes. A counter consolidation of other communities in favour of LDF is not being ruled out completely in the wake of NSS stand.
With the constituency known for strong socio-political undercurrents, the bypoll this time will be too close to call....