Thiruvananthapuram: Congress stalwart K Muraleedharan, MP, who has been selected as the party candidate for the Nemom legislative assembly constituency here is confident about his poll prospects despite its adverse electoral dynamics of late.
"I am confident of winning the seat. I don’t rule out a CPM-BJP nexus to defeat the Congress in Nemom. Even then, I trust the support of ordinary people. In 2016, I did get the Left votes to defeat the BJP candidate in Vattiyoorkavu. It will repeat in Nemom," Muraleedharan said.
In the last assembly polls BJP's O Rajagopal had created history in Nemom as he won and thus became the first-ever legislator of his party in the state. Muraleedharan is unperturbed by the 2016 poll statistics which shows the UDF candidate could garner only less than 20,000 votes.
"One of our allies with scant links to Nemom was in the fray last time. Since a weak candidate was fielded, the traditional UDF votes went to the BJP. The picture will change this time since the candidate is contesting under the Congress’ poll symbol. I am going to Nemom with a resolve to face any challenge. This is war, and I will fight," Muraleedharan stated.
The Congress' decision to field Muraleedharan followed intense speculation on the likely candidate. Former Chief Minister Ooomen Chandy was initially in the reckoning, but the move had to be aborted at the eleventh hour after protests by his supporters in the Puthuppally constituency in Kottayam district.
"The Congress’ aim is to recapture Nemom and prevent another BJP win. The voters in Nemom are aware of the activities I had taken up in the neighbouring constituency, Vattiyoorkavu. Perhaps, the leadership might have considered this aspect while deciding to nominate me," Muraleedharan, who represents the Vadakara Lok Sabha constituency, threw light on the party's motives in selecting him for the seat in Thiruvananthapuram district.
Speaking on his readiness to enter the fray from Nemom, Muraleedharan ascribed a political motive too.
"CPM has been alleging that Congress helped BJP’s O Rajagopal win Nemom in 2016. The allegation has now lost its sting with the Congress taking up the seat and fielding me in the constituency. Congress has been taking on BJP in the country, including Kerala. I had already indicated to the party leadership my willingness to contest if no one is interested in running for the Assembly from Nemom," Muraleedharan asserted.
Ahead of his visit to Nemom on Tuesday, Muraleedharan's challengers in the current state polls even targeted him over sitching constituencies midway.
He had earlier represented the Vattiyoorkavu assembly seat after victories in two state polls (2011 and 2106), but resigned after getting elected from the Vadakara Lok Sabha constituency in 2019.
His father K Karunakaran had won from Nemom earlier. That political legacy too may be a factor in the polls. "I draw my strength from the love people have towards Karunakaran as a leader and the trust they place on Congress," he remarked.