Seeking to avenge late P M Sayeed's shock defeat in 2004 when his victory juggernaut for ten consecutive terms was halted by a novice, his son 27-year-old Hamdulla Sayeed is making an electoral debut from the country's smallest constituency of Lakshadweep.
P M Sayeed, a former Union Power minister, was the face of the Union Territory in the Lok Sabha from 1967-2004 but tasted a stunning defeat in 2004 by a whisker losing by 71 votes to debutant Dr Pookunji Koya of JD(U), part of BJP-led NDA.
But, this time, the then giant killer, Koya, is contesting as NCP candidate. During the vote of confidence sought by the Manmohan Singh ministry, Koya had defied the party whip and backed the government that led to his being disqualified as an MP under anti-defection law. Subsequently, he joined NCP
Kunji Koya Thangal, NCP General secretary and election agent of Dr Koya, told PTI that the Congress would be 'taught a lesson' and given a "fitting" reply in the polls. He claimed that Koya had voted in favour of the UPA government as he had been assured that he would be the UPA candidate from the Union Territory this time. But when the candidate list was released, he was in for a surprise as the Congress had fielded Hamdulla.
The pictursque Lakshadweep constituency will witness a four-way race with all the national parties- Congress, NCP, BJP and CPI(M) fielding candidates.
The BJP candidate is Dr K P Muthukoya, while CPI(M) has fielded a candidate for the first time, M K Lukmanul Hakkim.
Koya had brought in several welfare and development schemes in the education, tourism, transport and fisheries sectors, as also the hike in the ST scholarship for Lakshadweep students and fee concessions in self financing colleges for students from the islands, Thangal said.
Dubbing Hamdulla an 'outsider', NCP sources said he grew up in Delhi and cannot even speak the language of the islanders and understand their problems.
Hamdulla, an advocate, is the AICC member and General Secretary of the Lakshadweep Territorial Congress.
He could face an uphill task in his aim for a revenge victory but is counting on the good work done by his father who represented the constituency for over three decades.
Muthukoya told PTI that, if elected, he would draw up a comprehensive plan to overcome the difficulties in the shipping and transport sectors, and would give priority to health and education. Former minister and BJP leader S Tirunavukkarasu is expected to campaign in the islands in the coming days, he said.
The much awaited constitutional amendment granting Scheduled Tribe status to the children of island inhabitants born outside Lakshadweep, is being used as a key poll issue both by the Congress and NCP.
Lakshadweep consists of 10 inhabited and 25 uninhabited small islands with a total population of 75,000. Polling will be held on April 16. The total electorate is 44377 -- 21818 women and 22559 men.