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Kerala Assembly elections | It’s battle royale for supremacy in the Left fortress of Kannur district

BJP-led NDA too working hard to make a dent in the vote bases of the LDF and the UDF

Kannur district, which traditionally favoured the CPI(M) in the Assembly elections, is set to witness a fierce battle between the UDF and the LDF, with the BJP-led NDA too working hard to make a dent in the vote bases of the other two main fronts.

This time, 75 candidates are in the fray to fight for the 11 Assembly constituencies in the district. The LDF and the UDF led have fielded their candidates in all the 11 seats, while the NDA is contesting in 10, following the nomination of BJP district president N. Haridas to the Thalassery constituency was rejected.

While the LDF is confident of improving its 2016 score, the UDF and the NDA are leaving no stone unturned to blunt the impact. Though all the three fronts have promised development of road, infrastructure, health, education and tourism and job opportunities, the poll campaigns of the UDF and the NDA are dominated by a raft of charges against the LDF, including the gold smuggling case, deep-sea fishing agreement, political murders and illegal appointments.

The LDF won eight of the 11 constituencies in the last Assembly elections. This includes Payyannur, Taliparamba, Kalliasseri, Kannur, Dharmadam, Mattanur, Koothuparamba and Thalassery. Three constituencies — Azhikode, Peravoor and Irikkur — favoured the UDF. However, this time the election is likely to witness a close contest at least in four constituencies in the district.

High hopes

The Kannur constituency, considered a stronghold of the UDF, was won by the LDF in 2016. The LDF candidate and Congress(S) leader Kadanappally Ramachandran, who defeated the UDF candidate Satheeshan Pacheni then, is seeking a re-election. The UDF, however, looks confident of wresting it, riding on the hopes of its good performance in the local body polls last year and the Lok Sabha election in 2019 that favoured the front. The NDA candidate here is also expected to make an impact.

The Azhikode constituency is set to witness a closely watched joust, where K.V. Sumesh of the LDF and the incumbent MLA K.M. Shaji of the UDF are pitted against each other. Mr. Shaji is standing for the elections for the second time now from Azhikode, considered a Left bastion before its delimitation.

However, the LDF is hopeful of recapturing the constituency, with Mr. Shaji’s image arguably marred by charges of bribery and cases of illegal wealth acquisition against him. By fielding K. Ranjith, a former district BJP president, the NDA is endeavouring to increase its vote share.

The Koothuparamba constituency is predicted to see a three-cornered contest after the LDF decided to field Loktantrik Janata Dal leader K.P. Mohanan as its candidate. In 2016, Mr. Mohanan, then a UDF candidate, lost the election to LDF candidate and incumbent Health Minister K.K. Shylaja. Mr. Mohanan this time will be up against Pottankandi Abdulla of the UDF, who enjoys a huge support here. The NDA candidate, C. Sadanandan Master who got 20,000 votes in last election, is also likely to make an impact in the results.

Eyeing NDA’s votes

In Thalassery, where the NDA has no candidate, both the LDF and the UDF are eyeing the 22,000-odd votes the NDA secured in last Assembly polls. Here, the NDA has decided to back the independent candidate C.O.T. Nazeer, a former CPI(M) worker, who survived attempted murder by CPI(M) workers at Thalassery.

Interestingly, this election will be without some of the well-known CPI(M) leaders who have been active in electoral politics for years. Five new candidates were given the opportunity as part of the party’s decision to exclude two-time contestants.

This move has left the LDF with some of its war horses, including Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who is contesting from Dharmadam, K.K. Shylaja (Mattannur), A.N. Shamseer (Thalassery) and M.V. Govindan master (Taliparamba), to lead the election from the district.

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