Kannur: Kannur is witnessing a neck-and-neck contest. Though the land of looms and lores bears a red fortress tag, its election history says otherwise.
Of the 14 general elections the constituency witnessed since 1951, eight went in favour of Congress, which includes a thumping consecutive five-time victory of now KPCC President Mullappally Ramachandran.
In 2014, LDF’s P.K. Sreemathi got through by a slender margin of 6,566 votes over UDF’s K. Sudhakaran. But in the 2016 assembly election, LDF had a comfortable lead of 1,02476 votes across seven segments which is their major confidence factor.
Among them, Kannur, Dharmadam, Mattannur and Taliparamba are with the LDF and Azhikode, Peravoor, Irikkur with UDF. This time, both LDF and UDF have repeated their candidates.
For the outside world, political violence is the major issue here. But for Kannurites, it is one among the factors; the others include the performance of Ms Sreemathi as an MP, development, minority votes and K. Sudhakaran.
Sreemathi’s performance as a parliamentarian is abysmal as everyone agrees. But during this period, she had developed a good rapport with people which also everyone agrees.
In general, there was a mood that she could be given a second chance. But that was dashed after UDF announced their candidate, the Kannur strongman.
Mr Sudhakaran is undoubtedly the tallest Congress leader in Kannur, who had a history of taking on CPM in his own style, tit-for-tat. He can inspire a large section of UDF workers, especially the youth. But in the last leg of the campaign, his alleged misogynistic video landed him in trouble.
The state women's commission has suo moto taken case against it.
Former BJP state president C.K. Padmanabhan is the BJP candidate here.
BJP had unleashed a national campaign projecting CPM’s political violence in Kannur, but that tempo is missing in the election campaign.
There is a significant presence of minorities, especially Muslims, in Kannur and there is every reason for them to rally behind UDF. The murders of MSF leader Shukoor and Youth Congress leader Shuhaib could drive minority votes away from LDF. Add to this the Jamaat-e-Islami-controlled Welfare Party’s support to UDF.
Christian votes are dominant in the high ranges of Peravoor and Irikkur which traditionally support UDF, and the community is unlikely to switch their loyalty this time also. In the campaign field, CPM repeatedly says Mr Sudhakaran might "cross over to BJP tomorrow", an allegation he pooh-poohs angrily.
“I will not join BJP even if Pinarayi Vijayan does,” he retorts, pointing to Jan Sangh-Janata Party days.
CPM has the organisational machinery to overcome all odds against it. But remember that Kannur parliamentary constituency doesn’t include Kuthuparamba, Thalassery, Payyannur and Kalliasseri; the first two falls in Vadakara seat and the last two, Kasargod.