Long wait to decode Kannur poll riddle

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  • Published 12.04.11
A CPM supporter in Kozhikode on Monday. (PTI)

Kannur, April 11: When campaigning for the Kerala Assembly elections ended at five this evening, what began for many in the CPM is a month-long wait to see how the Left bastion of Kannur would behave in the April 13 polls.

After a landslide win in the 2006 Assembly polls, the CPM lost the prestigious Kannur Lok Sabha seat in the 2009 general elections.

While the Congress-led United Democratic Front expects five out of the 11 Assembly segments to go its way, the Left Democratic Front is hoping to win at least eight on May 13, when votes are counted for the state’s 140 seats.

What is at stake for the CPM in this north Kerala district — 310km from Kochi — is much more than numbers since it was here the state’s communist movement was born. Leaders like A.K. Gopalan, K.P.R. Gopalan and E.K. Nayanar were all sons of Kannur.

“We will win a huge majority in Kerala and especially so in Kannur,” said central committee member and party firebrand E.P. Jayarajan, contesting from Mattannur in rural Kannur, although his election meetings today had poor attendance.

The CPM is hoping to break the trend of Kerala never returning a government to power.

Although it is the Congress’s turn to rule going by the state’s electoral pattern, there is no clear sign of anti-incumbency and chief minister V.S. Achuthanandan, who has more enemies within the CPM than out of it, has suddenly become the party’s poster boy. He has attracted more crowds than Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, whose rallies saw empty chairs.

“I am sure this is the last of the five-year trend and the LDF will be voted back to power,” CPM leader Sitaram Yechury, who with general secretary Prakash Karat has toured most of the weak segments, said.

The Left hopes to return to power with 80 seats. In 2006, it had won 99.

Besides the southern districts of Kollam and Alappuzha, it is Kannur that the Left usually looks to for seats. Barring the main Kannur constituency — an urban stretch with a significant Muslim population — the district always stayed with the Left until the last general and local council elections. In the October 2010 polls, the Left won 60 of the 87 panchayats that would make up eight of its 11 Assembly segments. The Congress-led front’s tally of 27 was its best ever.

Tough battles are on in five Assembly segments in the district, known for intense political battles and bloodshed over the decades.

Congress leader and defence minister A.K. Antony said: “Political violence unleashed by the CPM and BJP have left an ugly blotch on Kannur and Kerala.”

Over 300 people have died in CPM-BJP violence in Kannur between 1975 and 2010.