Thiruvananthapuram, Mar 17 (PTI) If anyone asks which is the most talked-about constituency in Kerala in the April 6 assembly polls, a majority of the people may have only one answer -- Nemom, a tiny suburb located on the outskirts of the state capital.
And, what makes it so high profile is the do-or-die situation faced by the major political fronts-Congress-led UDF, CPI(M)-headed LDF and BJP-NDA- at this segment which has already garnered national attention.
Nemom is the lone seat of BJP in the Kerala Assembly.
BJP candidate and former Mizoram Governor Kummanam Rajasekharan and LDF nominee V Sivankutty have already begun their campaign in the constituency.
Though a bit late, Congress heavyweight, K Muraleedharan, whose candidature was announced onlytwo days ago, made a mass entry into the constituency by taking out a mammoth road-show on Tuesday.
With the arrival of a strong leader like Muraleedharan, Nemom is expected to witness one of the toughest triangular fights in its history in the polls.
Rajasekharan, who submitted nomination papers on Wednesday, expressed confidence about his victory and said the BJP would surely retain the seat.
The senior leader, who was reportedly the unanimous choice of the saffron party as candidate in the prestigious segment, said his candidature was the result of the trust shown by the people of Nemom.
The saffron party has no choice but trying all means to retain their sole Assembly constituency, which they had gained after years of struggles and toil, breaking the dominance of decades-long bipolar polity enjoyed by the UDF and LDF in the southern state.
However, the traditional fronts- UDF and LDF- have the heavy responsibility to throw out the BJP from the soil of the state to reclaim their hegemony in polls and implement their aim to keep the state 'BJP mukth'.
The steady rise in its vote bank in Nemom has prompted many BJP leaders tolabel the constituency as the 'Gujarat of Kerala' while Marxist party termed it as their 'red fort' quoting the figures of the voting percentage in previous polls.
The Congress party leadership might have spent a significant time to choose a strong nominee in Nemom to discard the allegations by the Marxist party against their 'tie-up' with BJP in theconstituency.
The mass drain of votes from the UDF side during the 2016 assembly election was the reason for the Left to raise allegations against them.
The Congress even thought aboutfielding a high profile leader like Oommen Chandy to give a befitting reply to the CPI(M) but finally roped in senior leader K Muraleedharan, a member of parliament.
If the party wins and it can wrest the lone seat from BJP, it would be a game-changer in state politics, the Congress leadership feels.
After launching the campaign at Nemom, Muraleedhran, son of former Chief Minister, the late K Karunakaran, said he and the Congress were contesting for the first position in the upcoming elections.
'Let them (LDF and BJP) decide the second and third positions.But, we are fighting for the top position.
I have whole-heartedly taken up the responsibility entrusted to me by myparty,' the leader said.
Rejecting the claims ofthe UDF and BJP, Sivankutty, the LDF candidate, however, said the constituency has all the favourable factors for theLeft front to succeed and he wasreceiving very positive responses from voters.
'People here havetheir own reasons,whether the issues at the national level or the development projects implemented by the Pinarayi Vijayan government,to choose an LDF candidate as their representative this time,' he said.
He alleged thatpresent BJP MLA had done nothing for the development of the constituency in the past five years.
With nearly two lakh voters, Nemom has a large chunk of upper-caste Hindu votes besides a considerable Muslim and Nadar community votes.
BJP veteran and former union minister O Rajagopal had won Nemom in the 2016 assembly polls garnering 67,813 votes and defeating V Sivankutty who secured 59,142 votes.
However, the UDF candidate V Surendran Pillai (JD-S) could finish only in a distant third with 13,860 votes.
Untilthe saffron party wrested Nemom in 2016, both the traditional fronts- LDF and UDF- had won the constituency twice each in four elections since 1996.
Of the total 1,57, 949 votes polled in Nemom assembly segment during the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP candidate garnered 58,513 votes while Congress and CPI nominees 46,472 and 33,921 votes respectively. PTI LGK BN BN