As Kerala goes to the polls on April 6, at least 10 among the 140 Legislative Assembly constituencies in the state are definitely to be in the focus much more than several others as they are set to witness a fierce contest. Seats where the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is likely to offer a stiff resistance to the candidates of the Left Democratic Front and the United Democratic Front will engage attention even outside the state. A few constituencies would be noted for the personalities in the fray.
Here are the 10 likely constituencies that may raise the political heat by several notches even as summer advances in the southern Indian state.
1. Vattiyoorkavu in Thiruvananthapuram district
An intense triangular contest is likely in the Vattiyoorkavu constituency in the Kerala capital. CPM's V K Prasanth who had won in a bypoll in 2019 could be in the fray again. Reclaiming the constituency is a battle of prestige for the Congress. Former diplomat Venu Rajamony is in the short list. Ace translator and Sociology teacher Jyothi Vijayakumar is also being considered for the party ticket. She had shot to fame after translating Congress leader Rahul Gandhi's speech impeccably during his Kerala tours. The BJP is considering to field either former state party president Kummanam Rajasekharan or district president V V Rajesh.
2. Kollam in Kollam district
Will actor-turned-politician Mukesh contest again to retain his seat? The objections to his candidature from the CPM are likely to subside. The Congress plans to bring in a strong candidate, who would be able to capture the constituency, which has been elusive for more than a decade. The names of AICC secretary P C Vishnunath and DCC president Bindu Krishna get precedence in the list of probables.
3. Aranmula in Pathanamthitta district
Aranmula is likely to witness a strong triangular contest. The CPM is likely to field former media professional and sitting MLA Veena George. For the UDF, former MLA K Sivadasan Nair and P Mohanraj head the list of likely choices. Senior BJP leaders K Surendran, Shobha Surendran and M T Ramesh are among the options to cash in on the party's rising vote share.
4. Pala in Kottayam district
Jose K Mani, who was with the UDF until last year, is set to be the LDF candidate. And Mani C Kappan, who was in the LDF, will become the UDF candidate. Thus, the stage is set in Pala for a strong straight contest between two personalities. The poll contest would get more exciting if Kerala Congress (Thomas) leader P C Thomas is chosen as the candidate of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance.
5. Kalamassery in Ernakulam district
Will former UDF Minister V K Ebrahim Kunju enter the fray again despite the legal hassles over the Palarivattom bridge project? A section in his party, Muslim League, is trying hard to keep him out. But still, Ebrahim Kunju might get the nod. The CPM could field DYFI state secretary A A Rahim against the former Minister, sources indicate.
6. Kalpetta in Wayanad district
Will KPCC president Mullappally Ramachandran contest in Kalpetta which is a part of the Wayanad constituency of Rahul Gandhi, MP? Latest reports suggest Mullappally may opt for Kannur. If not Mullappally, KPCC vice-president T Siddique, who had relinquished his sure candidature for Rahul Gandhi in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, could make a shot for the Kerala assembly from Kalpetta.
The LDF is also facing a similar situation. Should the seat be given to the Loktantrik Janata Dal (LJD) that has returned to its fold? Or should the CPM retain it? If LJD gets the seat, then former MLA M. V. Shreyams Kumar will contest; but if it is the CPM, sitting MLA C K Saseendran will contest. Last time, Shreyams Kumar had lost to Saseendran.
7. Kannur in Kannur district
Congress (Secular) chief and LDF minister Ramachandran Kadannappally had won from here by just 1,196 votes in the 2016 polls against DCC president Satheesan Pacheni. The LDF is likely to field Kadannappally again. It is a battle of prestige for the UDF and the Congress may deploy Pacheni again. Youth Congress state vice-president Rijil Makkutty is also a probable.
8. Thrithala in Palakkad district
The CPM looks to unseat Congress' V T Balram, who is the main rival of the Left cyberwarriors, and reclaim the constituency. The CPM is reportedly considering to field former MP M B Rajesh or DYFI leader N Rajesh.Tripunithura MLA M Swaraj could also be shifted here. The BJP votes will be a crucial factor.
9. Vatakara in Kozhikode district
Two Socialist parties in the LDF are engaged in a tussle over the seat. Will Janata Dal or LJD get the seat? Or will the CPM take over the seat? Congress is divided over allowing RMP candidate K K Rema to contest, but the UDF may back her.
10. Manjeswaram in Kasaragod district
The investment fraud case against Manjeswaram MLA M C Kamaruddin of the Muslim League and the prospects of BJP put the constituency in focus. UDF candidate (late) P B Abdul Razak had defeated BJP's current chief K Surendran by 89 votes in the 2016 Assembly polls. In the bypoll held after the demise of Abdul Razak, Kamaruddin had won by 7,927 votes.
A few more seats could be considered for the list once the list of candidates is released by the parties in the coming days.