New Delhi: For an assembly bypoll, Chengannur has generated a lot of anticipation and excitement rather uncommon to Kerala's political landscape that has been predominantly bipolar.
- Kerala's political landscape has been predominantly bipolar
- Chengannur bypoll has generated a lot of anticipation and excitement
- Ruling CPM-led LDF sees the by-election as a referendum on its government
While the ruling CPM-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) sees the by-election as a referendum on its two-year-old government, the opposition Congress is keen on wresting the seat it has won all but four times. Fresh from beating the CPM in its bastion Tripura, the BJP is seeking to do better than in 2016 when it won nearly 16 per cent of the vote in the assembly polls.
By-election to the constituency in central Kerala is being held after the death of the sitting CPM lawmaker KK Ramachandran Nair who had defeated the Congress candidate by nearly 8000 votes in 2016.
While the LDF has fielded CPI(M)'s Alappuzha district secretary Saji Cheriyan, D Vijayakumar is the nominee of the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF).
Former BJP state president PS Sreedharan Pillai, who had given a fight to both the LDF and the UDF in the 2016 election, is trying his luck yet again.
While Nairs form nearly 28 per cent of the voters, Ezhavas belonging to the Other Backward Classes (OBC) category account for about 18 per cent. There is a sizable Christian population as well.
In the run-up to the bypoll, the LDF showcased the achievements of the Pinarayi Vijayan government. The CPM has also reminded voters of the 'hardships' they faced during demonetization and what it calls flaws in the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and the alleged communal agenda of the BJP-led NDA government at the centre.
The Congress has added to its fortunes by winning over its old ally Kerala Congress (Mani) that had parted ways with the UDF after the 2016 assembly polls. Kerala Congress (Mani) has considerable support among the Christian voters.
The BJP-led NDA that came third the last time securing around 42,000 votes, a significant jump from the 6000-odd votes it got in 2011, is banking on the achievements of the Narendra Modi-led government at the centre.
Ties between the BJP and Bharat Dharma Jana Sena, one of the constituents of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), which claims support among the Ezhavas, have soured with the party reportedly upset with the delay over giving the community posts on various boards and corporations as promised by the BJP.
The BJP that has just one seat in the 140-member Kerala assembly in keen on increasing its footprint in the southern state ahead of next year's general elections.