Kasargod, Oct 17, 2019: Among the five assembly constituencies in Kerala where by-polls will be held on October 21, Manjeswaram in Kasaragod is unique. Even language plays a major role in polls in the northernmost constituency in Kerala. In the 15 Lok Sabha elections held since 1957, the CPI(M) won the seat 12 times.
Though the BJP had high chances in Manjeswaram, where it came second in 2016, candidate selection have diminished the chances this time.
(Raj Mohan Unnithan, KP Satheesh Chandran and Ravish Tantri Kuntar)
BJP leader Surendran, who lost by just 89 votes at Manjeswaram in 2016, was fielded at Konni this time. Instead, Ravisha Tantri Kuntar was fielded at Manjeswaran this time considering the high votes he pooled in the Manjeswaram Assembly segment in the Kasargod Lok Sabha polls, though he lost. This time, the CPI(M) has chosen a popular face in the constituency, KP Satheesh Chadran. The Congress, in a surprise move, picked its spokesperson Raj Mohan Unnithan, who is an outsider for the people of Kasargod.
In Manjeswaram, the Congress’s ally in the United Democratic Front, Indian Union Muslim League is powerful. This adds to the expectations of the Congress, although BJP has its major vote share in these constituencies.
For the ruling CPM-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) front the by-polls are crucial in overcoming the rout it faced in the Lok Sabha polls in Kerala. The Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) wants to at least retain its four sitting seats and overcome the embarrassment caused in losing a recent by-poll to Pala Assembly seat that was held by Kerala Congress (M) Leader K M Mani for 54 years.
Sabarimala women entry issue dominates the election campaign with the Congress trying to attack the left-front and the BJP of doing nothing to protect the interest of the believers. They accuse the BJP of not bringing a legislation to protect belief over Sabarimala as assured during the Lok Sabha polls and also highlights a bill mooted by its MP N K Premachandran for protecting faiths over Sabarimala.