Battle of young guns in unpredictable constituency

LDF’s V.K. Prasanth, UDF’s Veena S. Nair and NDA’s V.V. Rajesh locked in an three-cornered fight

An intense three-cornered electoral battle is in on in the capital’s upcountry Vattiyurkavu segment.

The contest in Vattiyurkavu, which has seen candidates entering the fray in contrasting manner, has captured the public imagination. It is a constituency that is known to be unpredictable at the hustings.

The LDF had wrested the seat from the UDF in 2019 byelections. It has its task cut out with caste and community equations dictating the poll outcomes here.

The CPI(M)-led coalition has fielded former Thiruvananthapuram Mayor and incumbent MLA V.K. Prasanth who rode on a development plank last time to upset all political calculations to snatch an improbable victory.

On the other hand, the UDF and the NDA is betting on Youth Congress State secretary Veena S. Nair and BJP district president V.V. Rajesh respectively to cash in on the dominant Hindu Nair vote base.

Selection problem

Candidate selection had been riddled with much consternation for both the UDF and the NDA.

While Rajya Sabha member Suresh Gopi had been widely tipped to be the BJP candidate, the party chose to field Mr. Rajesh, who tasted electoral success recently when he had won from the Poojappura ward of Thiruvananthapuram Corporation in the local body elections.

Identifying its nominee for the constituency turned out to become a Herculean task for the Congress, despite the seat having been its stronghold since 2011.

The party’s initial plan to field KPCC general secretary K.P. Anil Kumar had run into rough weather with several local party workers threatening mass resignation. The opposition towards “importing candidates” continued until the party zeroed down on Ms. Nair, a Sasthamangalam native.

The constituency

The core areas of the Vattiyurkavu constituency were part of the erstwhile Trivandrum-II constituency from 1957 to 1977 and later Trivandrum North until 2011. The region is known to have sent former Chief Minister Pattom Thanu Pillai to the State Legislature twice in 1957 and in 1960.

Following the delimitation of 2008 that saw parts of Kazhakuttam, Vattiyurkavu and Kudappanakunnu grama panchayats becoming part of the constituency, Congress leader K. Muraleedharan won twice in 2011 and 2016. The 2019 byelection that was necessitated by him vacating the seat swung the constituency towards the Left.

Voting pattern

The UDF vote share fell by 12.38% in 2016 and a further 5.23% in 2019. Contrastingly, the BJP’s vote share jumped from 11.98% in 2011 to 31.87% in 2016 and 37.58% during the 2019 General elections. However, its vote share fell when former district president S. Suresh could garner on 22.16% of the votes in the by-election.

While emerging victorious in 2019, Mr. Prasanth had won 44.25% votes and led in 23 of the 24 Corporation wards that formed the constituency.

During the recent local body elections, the LDF could only win 12 wards, while the NDA won nine and UDF three in the region. The Vattiyurkavu constituency has an electorate of 2,08,118 votes, including 1,08,787 women, 99,323 men and eight transgenders.

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