Malampuzha: The gladiator has wound up his barnstorming. Opposition leader V S Achuthanandan is now confined to his home turf of Malampuzha, where he labours to maintain the 23,000-plus majority he got in 2011 as friend-turned-foe Vellapally Natesan vows to reduce his vote lead, possibly defeat him.
Ezhavas constitute nearly 40 percent of the total 202,002 electors. They will decide the winner, as they have done all these years by forming the CPM bedrock, along with Dalits.
This time the bedrock has developed fissures with the advent of the pro-Ezhava Bharat Dharma Jana Sena. Microfinance units, comprising women members of SNDP, showed their resentment at an impressive rally in the constituency, protesting against Mr Achuthanandan’s attacks on Mr Natesan. In his eighth Assembly contest, Mr Achuthanadan's main threat is, communally speaking, from his own community. For a Marxist, class, not caste, matters. But electoral politics is much about caste.
Mr Achthanandan’s main rivals are KSU State president V S Joy, the UDF candidate, and BJP’s Mr C Krishnakumar, vice-chairman of Palakkad Municipal Corporation, the only civic body the party controls in the state.
If last time the Natesans gave all support to Mr Achuthanandan, this time he would miss them terribly, said Mr Krishnakumar, who is perhaps the best face for the NDA in Palakkad.
Counters LDF election committee secretary A Prabhakaran, who told DC that he had not seen them in the previous elections. Last time Kalabhavan Mani and Suresh Gopi came; now, Mani is no more, Suresh Gopi has gone to BJP.
“VS strength has been this backward class support base, comprising farm workers mainly. Nobody can poach on this solid turf. BDJS leaders, who tried to rally community members on the NDA platform, were told not to drag the SNDP into electoral politics. Sensing the mood of local people, they have backed out”, he said.
All three are braving the Palakkadan heat blast. When DC caught up with V S Achuthanandan on Saturday, he looked the very morning itself, though at noon after a gruelling campaign.
The ablest of the lot is, of course, the debutant Mr Joy, 29, now enrolled as an advocate. He can’t hope for any poaching on the Ezhava vote bank because he hails from Christian community. “I am confident that the caste factors will whittle down VS majority. The UDF vote base is 54,000, which is roughly 40 percent. In the best and worst of times, Congress maintained this level and had not been able to win”, said Mr Joy.
In the 2011 Assembly polls, Mr Achuthanandan polled 57.04 percent votes as against 39.84 percent of Ms Lathika Subhash (Congress). One advantage for Mr Joy is there is no “leg-pulling” by party men.
Mr Krishnakumar, 44, who has been a councillor for 16 years, believes the fight is between him and the Marxist veteran. He trusts 30,000 votes are solid BJP. Ms Sobha Surendran polled 23,000 votes in LS polls. Another 20,000 from BDJS, not a tall order because Ezhavas are 76,000-strong.
Yet another factor is Surya group head V M Radhakrishnan, caught in the crossfire between VS-Pinarayi factions. The general talk is he is working in tandem with Mr Natesan to fix VS. “ Not at all. He is the CPM nominee, he has to win. I am no spoilsport”, says Mr Radhakrishnan.
It’s dicey. Calls for a chartered financial analyst to give some insight into the outcome....