Sabarimala and flood are poll planks in Pathanamthitta

BJP leader K Surendran

The Sabarimala women entry row and the massive floods of 2018 are key issues to influence the voters of Pathanamthitta in Kerala.

Communal equations will lead to undercurrents in the constituency, which is estimated to have around 50% Hindu voters, 35% to 40% Christian voters and 10% to 15% Muslim voters.

Pathanamthitta is one of the few seats in Kerala where the BJP is pinning high hopes of opening an account to the Lok Sabha from Kerala by taking advantage of the Sabarimala issue.

BJP's firebrand leader K Surendran, who led the stir against the entry of women in the age group of 10-50 to the Ayyapa temple, is the candidate.

A setback to the BJP was the recent stand of the Nair Service Society (NSS), which represents the prominent Hindu Nair community, that the Centre did not initiate steps to protect believers' interests.

The whisper among political circles is that the NSS was unhappy with the BJP for not fielding a member of the Nair community at Pathanamthitta.

The BJP is using the Sabarimala issue for its campaign, though with caution owing to restrictions imposed by Election Commission. However, a silent campaign over Sabarimala is learnt to be happening.

The BJP is also roping in members of minority community to dispel apprehensions that the BJP rule may cause difficulties to those communities.

The Sabarimala issue, lapses in post-flood rehabilitation and a recent Amicus Curiae report that said the flood was due to a flaw in regulating the dam water are adverse factors to Left front.

However, many voters in the constituency hail the flood rescue operations. Left front candidate Veena George, who is the sitting MLA, has a good connect with the Christian community leaders and she was quite active in flood-rescue operations.

A pro-Congress wave at the national level is helping the sitting MP Anto Antony of the Congress. Many voters feel that Anto did not contribute much to the constituency over the last two consecutive terms.

But now, there is a general anti-BJP feeling among many voters, mainly those from the minority communities. Rahul Gandhi's proposed visit to Pathanamthitta next week will be a boost to Anto's prospects.

Though the recent entry of independent MLA P C George to the NDA raised the hopes of the BJP camps to influence Christian vote banks, there is another version which says George's decision to join the BJP did not go down well with his supporters.

The BJP camps claim that though it was in the third place during the 2014 elections, its vote share had almost doubled to reach around 16%.

 

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Sabarimala and flood are poll planks in Pathanamthitta

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