No political front is expecting a cakewalk this time

Caste and religious equations play major role in an otherwise LDF citadel

What makes the contest fascinating in the Aroor Assembly constituency is its sheer unpredictability.

Aroor was considered a citadel of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] till the 2019 Assembly bypoll when United Democratic Front (UDF) candidate Shanimol Usman of the Congress wrested the seat from the Left Democratic Front (LDF) by defeating Manu C. Pulickal of the CPI(M) by a margin of 2,079 votes.

A few months prior to the byelection, the LDF had the first signs of trouble in Aroor. A.M. Ariff, then MLA, who won from the Alappuzha Parliament constituency in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls by defeating Ms. Usman, however, trailed in the Assembly segment. In the bypoll, Ms. Usman, carrying on the momentum, bagged Aroor for the UDF after a gap of 13 years.

When it comes to the upcoming polls, no political front is expecting a cakewalk. The Congress has fielded Ms. Usman again from the seat. The party feels the good work carried out in the last one-and-a-half years and her acceptance among voters will help it retain the constituency.

For the CPI(M), it is a matter of prestige to win recapture the seat, which it had won 10 times out of the 16 elections. The party, which witnessed some rumblings within post byelection defeat, is taking no chance this time. It has fielded Alappuzha district panchayat vice president Daleema Jojo. Ms. Jojo, a playback singer, was recently re-elected to the local body for the second time from the Aroor division.

The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has announced the candidature of T. Aniyappan of the Bharath Dharma Jana Sena (BDJS) from the seat. In 2016, Mr. Aniyappan who contested from Aroor on the BDJS ticket had garnered 27,753 votes.

If the results of the 2020 local body polls were any indication, the LDF has every reason to be upbeat. It romped to victory in seven of the 10 grama panchayats in the constituency. They include Kuthiathode, Ezhupunna, Aroor, Panavally, Perumbalam, Thycattusserry and Chennam Pallippuram. The UDF came to power in Thuravoor and Arookutty. The BJP won the Kodamthuruth grama panchayat.

The growing presence of the NDA is expected to make the battle for Aroor an interesting one where a large number of electorates make a living by fishing and working in allied sectors. Politics alone will not determine the winner as caste and religious equations too will play a role. Apart from the Ezhava community, a dominant force in Aroor, Muslims and Christians also have a sizeable vote share there.

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