A Left citadel that has favoured Congress too

In Nedumangad, BJP’s vote share too has been on the rise

A land known for its historical struggles against social oppression, Nedumangad has for time immemorial been a fertile ground for the Left movements.

While its past had been closely intertwined with the growing influence of the Left front in Kerala, the Assembly segment has been witnessing an erosion in the Left Democratic Front (LDF) vote base over the past three decades with its political opponents looking to seize opportunity.

Since the elections to the first Kerala Assembly in 1957, the quaint hilly region has sent nominees of the Communist Party of India (CPI) to the State Legislature consecutively until 1991. During the over-three-decade ‘Left reign’, the Nedumangad constituency had been represented by N. Neelakantaru Pandarathil (twice), K.G. Kunjukrishna Pillai (twice), Kaniyapuram Ramachandran and K.V. Surendranath (thrice).

Interestingly, S. Varadarajan Nair, a former Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) vice president, won the seat in 1965. However, the elections were nullified after none of the parties or coalitions could win a commanding majority to form government. This had led to the imposition of the fourth President’s rule in the State’s history.

The region witnessed a shift in its loyalties from 1991 when CPI decided to replace its three-time MLA K.V. Surendranath with K. Govinda Pillai who lost to Congress candidate Palode Ravi by 939 votes. Mr. Ravi, who had lost to Surendranath in 1987, cemented his position by defeating Mangode Radhakrishnan by 4,246 votes in 1996.

Mr. Radhakrishnan, however, wrested the seat back for the Left Democratic Front (LDF) in 2001, albeit with a slender margin of 156 votes. He managed to hold on to the seat five years later by edging past Mr. Ravi by a wafer-thin margin of 85 votes. The CPI move to field its then district secretary P. Ramachandran Nair backfired in 2011 when Mr. Ravi won again by a handsome margin of 5,030 votes and went on to become the Deputy Speaker. Congress’ joy was short-lived as he was subsequently defeated by CPI veteran C. Divakaran by 3,621 votes in 2016.

Nedumangad brought solace to the LDF camp though A. Sampath lost to Adoor Prakash in the Attingal Parliamentary constituency in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Mr. Sampath, the then incumbent MP, garnered 759 votes more than the Congress leader in the Nedumangad constituency, while the LDF candidate fell behind in all other Assembly constituencies, viz., Varkala, Attingal, Chirayinkeezhu, Vamanapuram, Aruvikkara and Kattakada.

The constituency comprised Nedumangad municipality, Manikkal and Karakulam grama panchayats in the Nedumangad taluk, Andoorkonam, Pothencode and Vembayam grama panchayats in the Thiruvananthapuram taluk. The LDF won over 21,000 votes more than the UDF in the region during the recent local body elections.

BJP’s presence

The BJP, whose vote-share remained below 5% until 2016, has been witnessing a surge in the past five years. While BJP’s current district president V.V. Rajesh won 23.22% of the votes polled during the 2016 Assembly polls, State vice-president Sobha Surendran managed to win 24.2% votes from Nedumangad in the general elections held three years later.

The constituency has an electorate of 2,03,229 votes, including 96,472 males, 1,06,755 females and two transgenders, according to the voters’ list published by the Election Commission on January 20.

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