Manorama News-VMR Kerala Exit Poll results announced on Friday threw up what looked like the most unlikely result for Nemom. CPM's V Sivankutty and Nemom's former MLA, the results showed, would wrest the BJP's sole seat in the Kerala Assembly, Nemom, by mobilising 40.7 per cent votes.
If the poll results are any indicator, the Congress's big gamble of fielding a 'strong' candidate seems to have fallen flat. K Muraleedharan, who is reputed to have mastered the art of winning, could be relegated to the third position with 33.1 per cent votes. BJP's Kummanam Rajasekharan, though runner-up, has not fared much better with 24.4 per cent votes.
Muraleedharan, clearly, has improved the UDF vote share but it looks like he has eaten more into the BJP votes. In a triangular fight, the CPM has emerged the winner. Initially, when the elections were notified, it was felt Nemom's was a two-way fight between the BJP and the CPM.
The Congress, which once lorded over the constituency cornering 50 per cent of the votes, had left it to minor allies since 2011. Thereafter, UDF candidates polled less than 20 per cent of the votes. Traditional UDF votes, from then on, went mostly to the BJP. This even triggered the charge that the Congress and the BJP had brokered a deal in hell.
But this time, to perhaps refurbish its secular image and to demonstrate its willingness to take on the BJP in its own lair, the Congress wanted one of its tallest leaders, especially Oommen Chandy, to contest from Nemom. When Chandy refused, Murali grabbed the chance.
However, Murali had to contend with a dysfunctional party machinery in Nemom. The apparatus was so dead that during the 2020 local body polls the UDF was unable to win in any of the 22 wards that make up the Nemom constituency. Worse, it came a distant third, in one case even fourth (Ambalathara), in 20 of them.
The polls show that Muraleedharan could not bring the party back to life in Nemom.