Kannur to witness kin contest
Kannur Lok Sabha constituency in Kerala is witnessing the repeat of a keen tussle between Congress veteran Mullappally Ramachandran and CPI-M young blood A P Abdulla Kutty, who wrested the seat, halting the former from winning it for a sixth straight time in 1999.
Congress has again fielded Ramachandran, a former union minister who has the reputation of keeping aloof from factional politics in the party, with the hope that it can utilise his image and influence in the constituency.
Issues like unfulfilled projects, crisis-ridden traditional industries, closure of industrial units and crash in the prices of agricultural produce are the subjects of debate in the constituency in the run-up to the polls.
A seat traditionally held by the Congress, Kannur was wrested by the Marxists through its youth leader Abdulla Kutty, who attracted a large chunk of minority votes which would normally have gone to the UDF.
Kutty is far ahead in his campaign over Ramachandran, whose name was cleared by Congress High Command only recently. The UDF campaign is slowly gathering momentum while the CPI-M with its cadre strength has completed its initial electioneering work.
The candidature of Ramachandran has brought alive Congress hopes as partymen belonging to different factions are putting up a united and cohesive work for regaining the seat.
Ramachandran, who had represented the seat for five consecutive terms till 1999, accords priority to setting up of centres of excellence, reviving crisis-ridden traditional sectors and enhancing tourism potential in the region by speeding up the airport project.
Kutty blames the Congress and BJP governments that ruled the Centre for the decline of the handloom sector which employed a large number of people in the area. He told PTI he would focus on removing hurdles in the airport proposal.
BJP has put O K Vasu as from this seat. He is critical of both Congress and the LDF accusing them of bluffing the electorate for their common goal of fighting the BJP-led government at the centre.
Adding a new dimension, the Rashtriya Maha Sabha, led by Adivasi leader C K Janu, has fielded Sreeraman Koyyon in the segment which includes part of Wayanad which witnessed a violent tribal land rights agitation last year.
In 2001 Assembly elections, four of the seven assembly segments forming part of the Lok Sabha constituency had remained with the UDF with the remaining three going the CPI-M way. Peravoor, Irikkur, Kannur and North Wayanad were held by Congress while CPI-M won in Azhikode, Koothuparamb and Edakkad.
Ramachandran was first elected from the constituency in 1984 when he defeated CPI-M's Patyam Rajan by a margin of 25,053 votes. He enhanced his margin to 42,404 in 1989 beating P Sasi of CPI-M. Ramachandran won the 1991 polls by a margin of 41,127 votes.
But his margin of victory slid to 39,302 in 1996 polls and fell drastically to 2,180 in 1998 before young Kutty turned giant killer in 1999. Kutty won by a margin of 10,247 votes.