Thiruvananthapuram, (Aryavarth) The Kerala state unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is fighting a high-stakes battle in the state, might sprung a few surprises in the upcoming state Assembly polls.
While the saffron party has been seen campaigning for the ‘Metroman’ E. Sreedharan, who is contesting from the Palakkad district, P.K. Krishnadas from the Kattakada Assembly constituency, state BJP President K. Surendran is contesting from two Assembly constituencies — Manjeshwar and Konni. BJP leader Kummanam Rajasekharan from Nemom constituency and actor-turned-politician Suresh Gopi from Thrissur district. The BJP might do well in the two constituencies.
While the saffron party is facing a stiff fight at its lone sitting seat, Nemom, in Thiruvananthapuram with former party state President Kummanam Rajasekharan sweating it out, the emergence of Kattakada and Kazhakootam Assembly constituencies in Thiruvananthapuram district has come as a sigh of relief to the BJP cadres and leaders alike.
Former BJP National Secretary, P.K. Krishnadas, who is considered as the face of the state BJP, contested from the Kattakada Assembly constituency where the CPI-M candidate I.B.Satheesh had won the seat by 849 votes in a neck-in-neck fight against N. Sakthan of the Congress during the 2016 state Assembly polls. P.K. Krishnadas had come in third trailing by 12,000 votes behind the CPI-M candidate. However, in the 2019 General elections, the BJP improved its tally by nearly 4,300 votes and in the local body polls held during December 2020, the party improved its tally further.
The candidature of Malayinkeezhu Venugopal for the Congress has changed the community equations of the Kattakada Assembly constituency as there were allegations levelled against him for plotting the defeat of party leader N. Sakthan in the 2016 state Assembly elections. Sakthan is a Nadar Christian and with the community having 25 per cent of the vote share, there are possibilities of a befitting response to the defeat of Sakthan in the constituency and may settle scores with Venugopal.
Rajesh Chandran, political analyst and former journalist, while speaking to IANS said, “The fight is between the BJP and the CPI-M and if a certain percentage of the Congress votes fall in the kitty of Krishnadas, he could probably win by a slender margin. Kattakada is a low profile seat and the BJP candidate even though being a former party State President and former BJP National secretary is a low profile person and acceptable to the constituency and the anti-incumbency factor is working out against the CPI-M leader, I.B. Satheesh.”
Similarly, in a three cornered fight at Kazhakootam Assembly constituency, the Kerala Minister for Devaswom and Tourism, Kadakampally Surendran, is pitted against BJP state Vice-President, Sobha Surendran, who is the firebrand woman leader of the BJP. The Congress candidate, S.S. Lal, is a medical doctor who has served the World Health Organisation(WHO). BJP and its candidate have raked up the Sabarimala temple issue and the entry of women into the hill shrine as a threat to the Hindu community and with Kadakampally Surendran being the minister in-charge of Sabarimala temple, has been the target of political potshots.
Kadakampally had to openly apologise for the “mishap” that happened at the Sabarimala temple. Kerala Assembly elections is now revolving around Sabarimala after former Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy brought the issue to the forefront putting the CPI-M on the defensive. Shobha Surendran is engaged in a high voltage campaign against the CPI-M and the Congress.
Union Minister of State for External Affairs, V. Muraleedharan was the BJP candidate at Kazhakootam in the last state Assembly elections and had come second losing by a margin of 7,347 votes and the BJP vote share had risen by 25.04 per cent. The BJP’s tally in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls has also increased considerably and the vote share has touched 45,479 votes. The BJP is clearly expecting this hike in vote share to help Shobha Surendran against CPI-M candidate and sitting Minister Kadakampally Surendran.