Thiruvananthapuram heats up ahead of poll contest

Thiruvananthapuram heats up ahead of poll contest

The scorching temperature in the city is nothing compared to the escalating political heat in the triangular fight in the district, in which the Sabarimala issue is playing a key factor.

The constituency is drawing national attention as the BJP is pinning high hopes of opening an account to the Lok Sabha from Kerala here, especially against the backdrop of the row regarding the entry of women into the Sabarimala temple in October last year.

The BJP brought back the party’s former Kerala state president Kummanam Rajasekharan from his office as the Mizoram Governor to contest in Thiruvananthapuram, considering his winnability factor. Kummanam had even came in second in one of the assembly segments (Vattiyoorkavu) in the constituency in the 2016 Assembly elections.

Diplomat-turned-politician and sitting MP Shashi Tharoor, the Congress candidate, is eyeing a hat-trick, while the Left front has fielded CPI leader and sitting MLA C Divakaran, a seasoned politician and former minister. Despite the restrictions imposed by the Election Commission on using the Sabarimala issue for campaign, the BJP-RSS are using the issue prominently in the campaign, using their mainfesto as a convenient cover. They are also alleging that the Left government in Kerala made women enter at Sabarmala Ayyappa temple.

Hindu vote

This is aimed at consoldidating the Hindu vote, especially as the Thiruvananthapuram constituency has got a sizeable population of upper-caste Hindus.

According to the 2011 census, the Hindu population in Thiruvananthapuram district stands at 66%.

While the Left Front has been attacking the BJP for Hindu extremism, Tharoor is telling voters that the Congress was the only party that genuinely stood with the devotees.

Kummanam claims that the Left Front and Congress have the common agenda of ousting the BJP from power in the Centre.

To support their campaign, the BJP camp claims that veteran leader O Rajagopal lost to Tharoor by just 15,000 votes in 2014.

The Congress camp responds saying the 2014 polls occurred just after Sunanda Pushkar’s untimely death, and moreover, there was a Modi wave across the country.

The Left camp candidate in 2014, the not-so-popular Bennet Abraham of the CPI, had scored just 50,000 votes less than Tharoor.

This time, the CPI has fielded C Divakaran, a more seasoned politician.

Global citizen Tharoor

The Left seems concerned about the BJP opening its account anywhere in Kerala, and if the chances of CPI winning the seat look bleak, the Left front may decide to favour the Congress.

While the BJP and LDF accuse Tharoor of doing nothing for the constituency over the last ten years, Tharoor stakes claims over the work for an NH bypass that connects Kerala and Tamil Nadu, as well as railway developments.

While Tharoor projects himself as a global citizen, Divakaran projects himself as the lone local among the three major candidates.