MAVELIKKARA : The history of poll victories in the Mavelikkara Lok Sabha constituency and the arrival of Rahul Gandhi in Wayanad, in general, have made the Congress aggressive, fancying the chances of repeating its winning streak in the segment this time as well. But it is not going to be an easy battle for UDF candidate and incumbent MP Kodikunnil Suresh since the LDF has fielded a formidable candidate Chittayam Gopakumar of the CPI, who is the sitting MLA representing Adoor Assembly constituency.
Though the devastating mid-August floods and the Sabarimala issue are supposed to dominate the political box office in the run-up to the general elections, these matters alone will not be the ultimate deciding factors. Caste and religion-based preferences are sure to play a key role in deciding the prospects of the candidates.
However, the people who belong to the lower strata are more worried about the basic problems they face than political issues. Rajamma Vasu, 64, a resident of AC Colony 1, Changanassery, said: “Though the government initiated some measures to mitigate the anger of the flood-affected people in the colony - one of the worst affected places in Changanassery - the MP or MLA did not visit the region or offer us any relief. We still spend a major part of each day under public taps to get potable water. So definitely, our apprehensions will be reflected in the voting.” For them, issues like Sabarimala are not a major concern as they consider them to be political gimmicks.
However, these matters will have a direct bearing on the upper middle class and upper class sections.“I used to work in the houses of a lot of middle class and upper middle class people in the constituency for whom Sabarimala issue is a matter of concern. Moreover, these people have clear caste and religious preferences when it comes to voting,” said Jobish, 34, a painter.
Interestingly, the paddy farmers in some pockets of Kuttanad who bore the brunt of the deluge are not much worried about the flood and Sabarimala, mainly because of two reasons. “They have been witnessing floods every year although the gravity was high last year. Secondly, they have reaped a bumper paddy harvest this time owing to the floods which brought fertile alluvial soil along with its course,” said Jayachandran, secretary of a padashekara samithy in Ramankary.
However, in the Chengannur Assembly constituency, the gateway to Sabarimala, people are more apprehensive about Sabarimala. Reji, a CITU worker at Pandanad, admitted Sabarimala along with the flood will factor in the poll prospects of both fronts as the people are yet to come to terms with these issues.
Majority of the people whom Express spoke to were of the opinion that more than flood and Sabarimala, caste and religion-based preferences would be the deciding factor in the polls as the caste outfits have clear sway over the populace of the constituency. Though the LDF has six Assembly constituencies in the LS segment in its kitty, the people’s preference based on caste line will be crucial as various Christian organisations, NSS and SNDP Yogam have major influence on the voters in the constituency.
Further, the NDA has fielded BDJS candidate Thazhava Sahadevan in the constituency. Though there are religion-based preferences, the absence of a strong BJP candidate is expected to provide an edge to the UDF. However, there are also reasons for LDF candidate to pin hopes on winning the seat as the Kerala Congress (B), had switched sides to LDF, which will work in favour of Left front in some pockets like Pathanapuram and Kottarakkara Assembly constituencies.