The Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha constituency is witnessing a tough triangular contest among sitting MP Shashi Tharoor of the Congress, former minister C Divakaran of the CPI and Kummanam Rajasekharan of the BJP. In the 2014 general elections, the Thiruvananthapuram contest saw incumbent Congress MP Shashi Tharoor defeating veteran BJP leader O Rajagopal by a margin of 15,470 votes, relegating CPI’s Bennett Abraham to the third place.
In 2009, Tharoor defeated CPI’s P Ramachandran Nair by a margin of 99,998 votes.
Tharoor is a popular figure in Thiruvananthapuram and has good connections with all sections of people in the constituency. Congress leaders believe his popularity among all sections in society will help him garner votes and reap success this time too.
CPI’s C Divakaran may have an advantage in the constituency as he is the son of the soil. He is popular among trade union workers and has led many workers’ struggles and mass movements in the state.
The LDF believes organisational strength of the CPIM, the “good governance” provided by the LD F government, will certainly help Divakaran to make it to the Lok Sabha. It is confident of tapping into the vote base in coastal areas through its proactive relief measures in the aftermath of cyclone Ockhi and various rehabilitation initiatives for the fisher folk.
As regards to BJP, Thiruvananthapuram has for decades been a constituency where it has had a respectable presence. Since the 1991 general elections, BJP candidates have always polled in more than 10 per cent of the total votes — except in the 2005 bypoll. BJP leaders expect the party can snatch the seat from Tharoor as the post-Sabarimala agitation in the constituency is favourable to them.
Kummanam Rajasekharan, former Mizoram governor is banking highly on the Sabarimala issue to garner votes. Sabarimala issue, perhaps one of the most emotive issues that rocked the Hindu community in the state in the recent years, could tilt the scales in Kummanma’s favour, political observers feel.
It may be noted that two Malayalam news channels have even projected Kummanam as the winner here, polling around 40 per cent of the total votes.
The electoral outcome in this constituency largely hinges on the possible vote swing from within the Nair community, the Ezhava community, Nadar community and minority communities. The Congress has traditionally derived its strength from the Nair, Muslim and Christian combinations.
However, in this election, a large chunk of Nair votes may go in favour of the BJP in the backdrop of the Sabarimala agitation. The constituency has 66.9 per cent Hindu population, a majority of which comprises upper caste Nairs and Brahmins.
As the voting date approaches fast, the only thing predictable about the election in this constituency is that it is unpredictable.