By P. Sreekumaran
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Low polling in all the five assembly constituencies which went to the polls on Monday due to heavy rains, has caused concern to all the three fronts, particularly the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) and the BJP-headed National Democratic Alliance (NDA)
The CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front(LDF), however sounded optimistic. The fall in poll percentage would in no way affect the chances of LDF candidates, front leaders assert.
UDF has reasons to worry as polling is lowest in seats which are considered traditional UDF strongholds like Ernakulam, Vattiyurkavu and Konni. Ernakulam recorded the lowest polling with only 57 per cent voters turning up to exercise their franchise. The nervousness was clearly visible from the body language of the UDF leaders who talked to the media personnel.
LDF leaders, on the other hand, feel they have a very good chance of adding to their kitty. The LDF leaders are sure of retaining Arur, a CPI(M) stronghold for a long time. The chances of LDF candidates wresting Vattiyurkavu, Konni and even Manjeswaram from the UDF are quite bright indeed, they believe.
It may be mentioned that both in Konni and Vattiyurkavu, senior Congress leaders K. Muralidharan, MP and Adoor Prakash, MP stayed away from the rally on the last day of the campaign. This was a clear indication of their displeasure over denying tickets to their candidates in the two constituencies. The by-elections had been necessitated in the two constituencies when Murali and Prakash won the Lok Sabha elections from Vadakara and Attingal respectively.
It took a long time for the Congress leaders to pacify both Muralidharan and Adoor Prakash. But the open bickering and show of defiance sent a negative message which will have a bearing on the result, feel confident LDF leaders.
Likewise, the BJP would fare poorly in what they consider their strongholds, Vattiyurkavu and Manjeswaram. Both the constituencies witnessed open feuds over ticket allocation. The BJP candidate K. Surendran had lost from Manjeswaram by the proverbial whisker – by a mere 89 votes in the last assembly elections. If the BJP had fielded Surendran again, the party would have managed to romp home the winner. But local leaders objected to his candidature and consequently, Surendran was shifted to Konni.
The BJP may be relegated to the third position in Vattiyurkavu where they came first in the Lok Sabha elections. Also, the denial of ticket to Kummanam Rajasekharan, a highly popular BJP leader in the constituency, would have an adverse impact of the B JP candidate this time, feel poll pundits. Besides, the RSS is said to be unhappy over the refusal to field Kummanam from Vattiyurkavu. Speculation is rife that an angry RSS has transferred its votes to the UDF candidate!
This, the LDF leaders claim would go in favour of their candidate, V K Prashanth, Thiruvananthapuram Mayor. The UDF camp is also low in spirits thanks to the feud over giving tickets to a candidate who was not close to K Kuralidharan, MP.
The LDF leaders feel they have a really good chance of wresting even Manjeswaram from the UDF. CPI(M) candidate Shankar Ray is highly popular in the constituency. He is a local man who speaks the local language fluently. Besides Ray’s open declaration that he is a believer will help him to secure a slice of Hindu voters which would otherwise have gone to either the BJP or the UDF candidate. CPI(M) circles predict that Manjeswaram, where the party has come third on the last two occasions, would spring an unpleasant surprise on both the BJP and the UDF this time.
LDF leaders sounded quite optimistic about wresting Ernakulam, too. The low turnout is a good sign, they claim. UDF leaders were visibly upset over the low polling. But they still think it can only reduce the majority of the front’s candidate. Ernakulam has always stood by the UDF; and this time also, the UDF candidate would emerge the winner.
The exit polls however favour the UDF. While a few channels predict a 4-1 verdict in favour of the UDF, there are others who forecast that the LDF would increase its tally by winning at least one more seat apart from Arur.
The counting of votes is scheduled to be held on October 24, and the results would come out the same day. (IPA Service)