Sivankutty wrests Nemom from BJP, Murali pushed to third position

V Sivankutty

The candidate thought least likely to win, CPM's V Sivankutty, has walked away with the honours in Nemom. The former MLA, who was trounced by O Rajagopal in 2016, elbowed out both BJP's Kummanam Rajasekharan and Congress's K Muraleedharan to wrest the sole seat the BJP could win in 2016. The history that BJP had created in 2016 at Sivankutty's expense has now been erased by the man himself.  

Sivankutty beat his nearest rival, Kummanam, by a small but decisive margin of 5,421 votes. Even staunch BJP wards like Estate, Pappanamcode and Melamcode had either swayed to the Left or had remained even in what is now seen as a massive LDF wave. Eventually, Murali ended up as a distant third.

Initially, Sivankutty was thought to be the least attractive of the three candidates. It was felt that his image was sullied by the pandemonium he had created inside the Assembly on budget day in 2014. Two years later, he lost the seat after the chaos he created inside the Assembly.

Now, it looks like Murali had eaten a bit into Kummanam's votes, especially upper caste Nair votes in the constituency, helping Sivankutty to finish ahead of the three, also quite comfortably.  

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, has been relegated to the third position but he still has managed to vastly improve the UDF's vote share in Nemom. He also made Nemom a triangular contest.  

Stiff triangular contest now on in Nemom unlike in 2016
BJP candidate Kummanam Rajasekharan, LDF candidate V Sivankutty, UDF candidate K Muraleedharan. Illustrations: Manorama

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. Still, he managed to steal some BJP votes.

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