Rival fronts exude confidence about their fortunes
The electorate in Thrissur is quite unpredictable. In the hub of gold business in the State, people play their cards close to their chest.
In the past 16 elections, people stood with the Communist Party of India 10 times and the Congress six times.
A triangular battle is in the offing in the Thrissur constituency this time. Joining the Left Democratic Front’s Rajaji Mathew Thomas and the United Democratic Front’s T.N. Prathapan in the fray is actor Suresh Gopi, the National Democratic Alliance candidate.
The constituency had seen major upsets too, leaders such as K. Karunakaran and Joseph Mundassery tasting defeat here. Voter sentiment may change in no time. If P.C Chacko of the Congress won in 2009 with a margin of 25,151 votes, the constituency changed loyalty in 2014 and sent CPI’s C.N. Jayadevan to the Lok Sabha with a margin of 38,227 votes.
The constituency, comprising the Assembly constituencies of Nattika, Manalur, Thrissur, Irinjalakuda, Guruvayur, Ollur, and Puthukkad, has 12,93,744 voters, which included 6,71,984 women, 6,21,748 men, and 12 transgenders.
Nattika and Guruvayur are predominantly coastal areas.
With the seven Assembly constituencies with the LDF now, Mr. Thomas is confident of victory. The former Ollur MLA and editor of CPI organ Janayugam claims the socio-political situation is in favour of the Left.
However, three-time MLA and District Congress Committee president T.N. Prathapan is confident of wresting the constituency from the CPI.
He thinks influence in the coastal belt and contacts beyond political affiliations may stand him in good stead.
Electoral battles in Thrissur always had a religious subtext to it. Minority votes, 35% Christians and 16% Muslims, will be crucial. There are two influential Catholic dioceses in the constituency.
Even as the UDF banks on the minority votes, the LDF claims the common folk among Christians have been shedding their anti-Left stance in view of the strong secular positions taken by the Left.
Mr. Gopi is no novice in the political scene. Though there was delay and confusion over declaring the NDA candidate, his campaign has gained momentum.
Thrissur is one of the four segments the Bharatiya Janata Party has decided to focus its attention. It thinks the party can reap mileage from the Sabarimala agitation.
State and national issues are the topics of discussion in the campaign. The LDF and the UDF are stressing the need to uphold the secular democratic fabric of the country.