The main battle in the Attingal Lok Sabha constituency was between two leaders who had never tasted an electoral defeat. CPM leader A Sampath lost out in his fourth run to Congress’s Adoor Prakash, who has been representing Konni in the Kerala legislative assembly for five consecutive terms.
Adoor won by a margin of 38,247 votes to wrest Attingal from Sampath. He polled 3,80,995 votes while Sampath’s vote base decreased to 3,42,748 votes. BJP’s warhorse Shobha Surendran polled 2,48,081 votes to finish third.
The LDF lost out in an election dominated by debates about local development and the recent agitation against the state government’s decision to implement a Supreme Court order that struck down a ban on entry of young women into the popular Sabarimala shrine.
Attingal had almost always aligned with the CPM and the Left Democratic Front. Left parties represented Attingal, which was called Chirayinkeezh before the 2008 delimitation, 11 times, while the Congress could win the seat only five times. The LDF commands all but one assembly segments in the Lok Sabha constituency. The UDF has a representative only in Aruvikkara.
The constituency has a history of giant slaying. R Shankar himself has lost out to K Anirudhan, Sampath’s father, in erstwhile Chirayinkeezh. Vayalar Ravi stormed the constituency in 1971 and 1977 with impressive leads. In 1980, when he switched his loyalties to the Congress (U) and contested as part of the CPM-led front, he lost out to Congress (I) candidate A A Rahim.
The Congress retained the seat through Thalekkunnil Basheer in 1984 and 1989. He beat veteran Communist Susheela Gopalan in 1989. Gopalan, however, took revenge in 1991 by wresting the seat from the Congress. The constituency had remained with the CPM ever since.
CPM’s Varkkala Radhakrishnan and Sampath have represented the constituency three times each as the Congress organisation remained weakened. Sampath polled 3,92,478 votes in 2014 to record a hat-trick victory. The Congress’s Bindu Krishna finished second with 3,23,100 votes while the BJP’s S Girijakumari polled 90,528 votes.
Sampath had a head-start in Attingal. He was loved as the son of K Anirudhan, a popular leader. Yet the Congress alleged that he had done very little to develop the constituency despite representing it for three straight terms.
The Congress candidate effectively employed a strategy to upset the communal equations that had benefited Sampath. The BJP also energised its cadre by deploying one of its known faces as a candidate.