Nilambur’s political currents changed course in favour of the Left Democratic Front in 2016 when independent candidate P V Anvar won the assembly constituency by 11,504 votes. The ruling alliance has yet again thrown its weight behind the businessman to dominate the hilly district.
The Congress has taken the challenge seriously. The party searched for a worthy opponent before settling for its former district president, V V Prakash. The BJP has taken over the seat from ally Bharat Dharma Jana Sena and fielded its district vice president, T K Ashok Kumar.
The hilly district’s calm demeanour can be deceptive. Nilambur has witnessed sensational political drama, from the shooting down of a legislator to the “encounter” killings of Maoists.
The Nilambur town was devastated by the flood of 2019. The constituency also contains Kavalappara, where a tragic landslide buried many people overnight. Floods and rehabilitation are live political issues in Nilambur. A slide in the prices of agricultural commodities and man-animal conflicts on the forest fringes can tilt the verdict.
On the development front, a proposed project to lay a rail connecting Nilambur and Nanjancode is a talking point.
Nilambur started out as a Left-dominated constituency, electing K Kunjali to the assembly twice. Political prospects alternated until Congress leader Aryadan Muhammed emerged as a formidable leader in 1987. He represented the constituency continuously until 2016, when his son Aryadan Shaukat was chosen as his political heir.
However, the CPM aligned with former Congress leader Anvar to end the Congress grip over Nilambur.
The voting pattern of last year’s local body elections is not very helpful in forecasting the election results, though the Congress-led United Democratic Front has a slender lead of 784 votes. The opposition front controls five panchayats and the LDF two. The LDF also controls the Nilambur municipal council, where the BJP managed to get a member elected for the first time.
Nilambur’s political currents are as unpredictable like the Chaliyar River that flows by it. They nurture and dislodge. Understanding the undercurrents is key to pass the test.