Battle of equals in Kerala's Azhikode

Battle of equals in Kerala's Azhikode

Battle of equals in Kerala's Azhikode
Good news for Azhikode, says an election poster for M V Nikesh Kumar, the Left Democratic Front (LDF) candidate in Azhikode, about 8 km from Kannur town.

The news reference here is also to Nikesh’s successful career as a television news presenter. Nikesh says he has moved out of studios and politics is his new career but he has his task cut out as he takes on a two-pronged challenge in this keenly-watched contest – one from sitting MLA K M Shaji of the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) and the other, from perceptions on his own political legacy.

Nikesh, son of late Communist stalwart M V Raghavan, had an iffy start to his campaign even as Left leaders fended criticism from some quarters on the decision to field him.
Raghavan, one of Kannur’s prominent Communist leaders through the 1970s and a good part of the 1980s, had a bitter break-up from the CPM before he formed the Communist Marxist Party and moved to the rival Congress-led coalition.

 As minister for co-operation, Raghavan faced angry CPM protests following the Koothuparamba police firing of 1994, which led to the death of five activists of the CPM-affiliated Democratic Youth Federation of India.

That’s a slice of Kannur’s history of blood-smeared politics which the ruling United Democratic Front (UDF) has tried to recall for Shaji’s campaign. Nikesh plays down the drama and says past does not steer his campaign.

 “Initially, there was a perception of such issues, created mostly on social media. I’m only interested in things I can do in this constituency,” Nikesh told DH. His campaign is entering the next level, with more house visits planned across the constituency.

Shaji is seeking vote for continued development in Azhikode, also through social media campaigns and video messages detailing his work as MLA. The thin margin of his 2011 victory — 493 votes — is not a concern because the MLA has managed to establish his credentials over the past five years, feels Faizal, a resident of Valapattanam.

Khalid Azhikkal, a resident of Azhikode, feels it’s a contest of equals though the candidates come from different backgrounds. “A poll debutant respected in his field is taking on someone who has also proved his abilities on the ground. I don’t think the controversies matter anymore; we’ve all moved on,” Khalid who calls himself a Left supporter said.

The BJP has fielded advocate A V Kesavan in the constituency. The UDF, however, will be watching plans of Congress rebel P K Ragesh with greater interest. Congress district president K Surendran downplayed Ragesh’s decision to contest as an independent candidate. “We are going forward after analysing trends in Pallikkunnu where he (Ragesh) has a base. He’s not going to be an issue,” Surendran told DH.
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