Battle for 'Nemom', BJP's lone seat, focal point in Kerala assembly polls

Nemom, a suburb in Kerala's capital Thiruvananthapuram is becoming a focal point of the state assembly polls, with all three fronts betting huge for a victory on the lone seat that BJP managed to win in 2016 assembly polls.

The BJP leaders had referred Nemom as the 'Gujarat of Kerala" and to upset the apple cart of BJP, Congress is playing its cards close to the chest.

"For Nemom constituency we will be fielding a strong contender, who will have people's acceptance," said Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee President ( KPCC) president Mullappally Ramachandran.

The Nemom constituency was won by BJP veteran O Rajagopal in 2016, garnering 67,813 votes against CPI(M) candidate V Shivankutty, who managed to get 59,142 votes. Meanwhile, Congress-led UDF finished in a distant third with just 13,860 votes secured by the JD(S) candidate V Surendran Pillai.

Rumours were rife that this time around Congress will be fielding MP from Thiruvananthapuram Shashi Tharoor, a decision backed by Rahul Gandhi. However, on Friday Congress leaders put the speculation to rest by announcing that no sitting MPs will be contesting the assembly polls. This also ended the speculation that MP K Muraleedharan could be a candidate in Nemom.

Though names of Oommen Chandy and Ramesh Chennithala also came up for Nemom, however, it is reliably learned both leaders told that they would rather prefer to contest from their own constituency in their hometown.

Chandy, also told media persons that he would be contesting from his constituency in Puthupalli, which he represented 10 times.

As the ball is in the Congress High Command's court, a final decision on Nemom which is one of the ten seats out of 91 that Congress is yet to choose a candidate will be clear by Sunday when the final list comes out.

This when CPI(M) has decided to go ahead with V Shivankutty who also started his campaign in the constituency beating both his rivals Congress and the BJP. The Nemom convention of LDF was inaugurated by former CPI(M) state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan.

Taking potshots at Congress, Shivankutty said that Oommen Chandy and Chennithala are afraid to contest from Nemom as they are sure of a defeat. " This time LDF will win the seat and both Chandy and Chennithala are wary to contest from here. Besides K Muraleedharan is also reluctant," he said.

Meanwhile, Kummanam Rajashekaran, who also enjoys RSS backing is expected to be the BJP candidate from Nemom. The BJP also managed to rope in Vijayan Thomas, former KPCC general secretary who parted ways with Congress after a ticket was denied to him from Nemom.

Last assembly polls, the BJP got a 9.97 per cent vote swing in Nemom, when it wrest the seat from CPI(M) and this time as well the party pins hope to repeat the success.

The election for 140-member Kerala Assembly in 14 districts will be held in a single phase on April 6. The counting of votes will be held on May 2.

The tenure of the 14th Kerala legislative assembly will come to an end on June 1, 2021. A total of 2,67,88,268 electors will elect the candidates in Kerala for the 15th legislative assembly.

In the 2016 Kerala assembly election, the CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front ( LDF) bagged 91 seats in 140-member Assembly. The BJP opened its account for the first time from the Nemom constituency, where BJP veteran O.Rajagopal won the seat.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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