Congress veteran takes on young CPI-M candidate in Kannur

Kannur, March 29: The battle for the Kannur Lok Sabha seat will be an acid test for the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) as the Congress is pulling out all stops to capture the constituency after a gap of 10 years.

The Congress has fielded ‘the best possible candidate’ there, sitting Kannur assembly legislator and 60-year-old former minister K. Sudhakaran, a battle scarred veteran who completed a hat-trick of victories in the 2006 assembly polls from here.

Taking on the challenge will be the CPI-M’s 38-year-old K.K. Ragesh, who worked up the ladder, beginning as a student leader and going on to become a state committee member of the party.

Despite Kannur being a party stronghold, the CPI-M suffered its first blow when early this month the sitting two-time party MP, A.P. Abdullah Kutty, was thrown out of the party for violating discipline.

Soon the Congress roped in Abdullah Kutty to launch a campaign against his former party. But in spite of making the right moves, the Congress is treading cautiously.

Sudhakaran agreed that by no means would this be an easy battle. ‘In the last elections, Abdullah Kutty won by more than 83,849 votes.

‘This part of the state is known for bogus voting and election-related violence where voters are terrorised by the CPI-M. If there is a free election, I will win by more than 200,000 votes,’ said Sudhakaran.

For the CPI-M, any untoward political development in this constituency would be difficult for the party to digest because this is the home district of CPI-M state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan.

K. Biju, an office bearer of the CPI-M’s youth wing, admitted that Sudhakaran was ‘the best candidate’ for the Congress to put up here but discounted the rebellion following Abdullah Kutty.

‘The Abdullah Kutty factor is insignificant simply because he is just a one-man army and we do not see any issues in that.

‘We have already finished two rounds of campaigning and the biggest advantage we have is that after the delimitation, the Taliparambu assembly constituency, our forte, has replaced the North Wayanad constituency, a Congress stronghold,’ said Biju.

Another factor which the CPI-M says may go in its favour is the absence of the apolitical voter, and therefore the possibility of swing votes.

‘Here the number of apolitical voters is negligible and hence this will to be our advantage. However, one fear we have is the secret understanding that Sudhakaran has always had with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP),’ said Biju. The BJP in the last polls secured 47,213 votes.

Elections to the 20 parliamentary seats from Kerala will be held April 16.