A close three-cornered contest in a UDF bastion

 thehindu.com  10/12/2019 18:16:51 

The ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF), Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF), and the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) are locked in a tight three-cornered electoral contest in the Konni Assembly segment.

However the candidates, the CPI(M)s K.U. Janeeshkumar, P. Mohanraj of the Congress, and K. Surendran of the BJP are all hopeful of a win in Konni against the backdrop of the fluid political scenario in the constituency.

Konni has been a UDF bastion for the past 23 years by electing Adoor Prakash of the Congress in all the previous five Assembly polls.

Mr. Prakash has improved his margin of victory from 806 votes in the 1996 general elections to 20,748 votes in 2016.

Sharp increase

Meanwhile, the Lok Sabha polls held in May this year witnessed a sharp increase in the vote share of the BJP against the backdrop of the Sangh Parivar campaign, propping up the Sabarimala womens entry issue and the alleged police excesses at Nilackal, Pampa and Sabarimala during the previous pilgrimage season.

Lok Sabha polls

Of the 1,44,548 votes polled in Konni in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Anto Antony of Congress had polled 49,667 votes (34.36%) while Veena George of CPI(M) and K. Surendran of the BJP scored 46,946 votes (32.47%) and 46,506 votes (32.17%) respectively, making it a close triangular contest between the major political coalitions in the Assembly segment.

The BJP, with only 0.3 % difference in the vote share with that of the LDF, in the previous Lok Sabha polls has launched a strong offensive to fill the gap and win the Konni Assembly seat, this time, by fielding its star campaigner in the bypoll.

The CPI(M) and Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan have taken the contest in Konni a matter of prestige.

Systematic campaign

The well-oiled party machinery has been carrying out a systematic election campaign right from the beginning, taking its candidate well ahead of his rivals on the campaign front.

Despite the internal squabbles and a slow start, the Congress campaign too has picked up momentum very fast with its State leaders pouring in to lead the campaign.

Voter demography

Communitywise, Nairs and Ezhavas dominate the voter demography of Konni followed by Christians. The candidates of both the CPI(M) and the BJP hail from Ezhava community.

The CPI(M) and LDF have propped up the strong local moorings of Mr. Janeeshkumar who himself is a voter in the constituency.

The Congress and UDF are hopeful of a smooth sailing, taking the right-distance policy announced by the Nair Service Society as a morale booster to its candidate and expecting to keep a sizeable chunk of Christian votes with them, this time too.

On the campaign front, the CPI(M) candidate, with systematic house visits and family conclaves, is far ahead of his rivals.

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