KASARGOD: Congress state president Mullappally Ramachandran's statement that he is "pained" and "worried" about Manjeshwar has caused an enormous flap in all three fronts in the district.
Ramachandran said he got disturbing information of the LDF striking a deal with the BJP to send K Surendran to the assembly from Manjeshwar. He even said the Chief Minister is behind the plan struck with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah.
"Thank god he said all this nonsense after the votes were locked inside the voting machines," said a senior IUML leader, clearly shocked by Ramachandran's ;revelation" that hinted that the UDF had lost the election in Manjeshwar.
Ramachandran said he wanted to close all the accounts of the BJP in the state. "That's why we fielded a strong leader in Nemom," he told a news channel.
"But I am pained by what I heard. But if any such unfortunate thing happens, the person who should be standing in the dock of the people's court of conscience is the chief minister," he said.
He said the chief minister is the sculptor of the plan. "He will not be able to wash away his political sins. I am a bit worried about that," he said and added: "There was a secret understanding among the chief minister, Amit Shah and Narendra Modi to take the BJP's state president to the Assembly."
BJP state president Surendran was up against the IUML's A K M Ashraf and the CPM's V V Rameshan in Manjeshwar.
Rameshan, a serious politician with a track record of changing the face of Kanhangad municipality as its chairperson from 2015-2020, said there were undercurrents in favour of the LDF and the state Congress president was taking anticipatory bail. He said the LDF had a chance of winning the election.
The number game
But the CPM camp is not equally pumped up. A strategist for the party said the LDF would hold on to its vote base of 26% if not better it in Manjeshwar. "I'm saying this based on our initial calculation," he said.
That is not enough for Rameshan to win but it is good enough for Ashraf to win in Manjeshwar, he said. "You must have seen it in the body language of Surendran," he said.
In Manjeshwar, 1,70,431 votes were cast. If the CPM strategist's words were taken at face value, the LDF would get 44,312 votes. He pegged the LDF's votes at 48,000 in the best-case scenario.
In the district panchayat election held in 2020, the LDF had polled 47,844 votes (political votes) and in the gram panchayat election (personal choices can come into play), the LDF got around 49,000 votes.
In Tuesday's assembly election, Manjeshwar saw polarised voting, said the CPM leader. If the LDF polls 45,000 votes, the remaining votes come to 1,25,431. The halfway mark comes to around 62,700 votes.
In the past two assembly elections, the BJP's vote share hovered around 35% -- when it lost by 89 votes and by around 8,000 votes.
Assuming the BJP increases its vote share by two percentage points as it did in 2016 -- when Surendran contested from Manjeshwar for the first time -- it will poll around 63,059 votes and it will be game up for the UDF.
For that to happen, the BJP has to poll around 5,500 votes more than the 2019 byelection.
A Congress leader said this calculation hinged on the performance of the LDF when the fight was between the UDF and the BJP.
The BJP's leads over the UDF would come from Enmakaje, Puthige, Paivalike, Vorkady, and Meenja panchayats. "But despite the concentrated campaigning in Enmakaje panchayat, which gives the BJP the widest margin, the polling dropped by 0.5 percentage points," said Enmakaje's panchayat president and Congress leader Somashekara J S.
He said 17,447 votes were polled in Enmakaje. Assuming that the BJP gets a lead of 5,000 votes over the UDF in the panchayat, up from 2,288 votes in the previous election; Puthige gives it a 1,000 vote lead up from 500; Paivalike gives 3,000 votes up from 2,000 votes; and Vorkady and Meenja give it a lead of 1,000 votes each, the total lead would come to 11,000 votes over the UDF, said Somashekara.
But if the UDF maintained the same leads of 2016 over the BJP in the populous panchayats of Mangalpady, Kumbla, and Manjeshwar, it comes to 13,400, he said.
UDF candidate Ashraf said this time the UDF had 4,000 more voters who could not go for Umrah pilgrimage because of COVID-19 and expats who could not return to Saudi Arabia because of the cancellation of flights. "The BJP quarters saw high turnout. So did the IUML areas of Mangalpady, Kumbla and Manjeshwar. Let's wait and watch. I'm not losing my sleep over it," he said.