Vadakara is particularly relevant in the political landscape of Kerala for it is the land of TP Chandrasekharan; where he was murdered too. It is a two-way contest here between the LDF and the UDF, with the BJP just making up the numbers.
CPI (M)’s P Jayarajan and Congress’s K Muralidharan are equally strong to take each other on, which makes it an unpredictable contest.
In fact the Congress had become defensive after the CPI (M) handpicked Jayarajan. The Congress after deliberations lasting days, and nearly three weeks after the CPI (M) announced its candidate, chose Muralidharan, a surprise pick.
Muralidharan is a sitting MLA of Vattiyurkkav constituency in Thiruvananthapuram. Jayarajan was the District Secretary of the CPI (M) in Vadakara’s neighbourhood Kannur and stepped out to contest in Vadakara. Both are fierce competitors. This has raised the stakes of the election campaign in Vadakara, as compared to several other constituencies. Jayarajan is one of the most powerful leaders of the party in the north and the strongest in Kannur. Muralidharan, a former minister and former head of the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC), has got acceptance for his capabilities and diligence. VK Sajeevan is the BJP candidate.
What makes Vadakara particularly relevant?
For a politically conscious Malayali, Vadakara is synonymous with the name of TP Chandrasekharan.
TP, as he was called, stood for correctness within the CPI (M). He parted ways with the party following differences and founded the Revolutionary Marxist Party (RMP) in 2009, based in Onchiyam at Vadakara.
TP was hacked to death in May 2015. The CPI (M) has been accused of conspiring in the murder and three CPI (M) functionaries are accused in the case. P Jayarajan is also accused of involvement in the murder. The crime had left a lasting impact even among hardcore CPI (M) workers.
TP’s wife KK Rema, who now heads the RMP, has said that they will support the Congress-led Left Democratic Front. The RMP has not fielded a candidate so as not to split the anti-CPI (M) vote and according to Rema, thereby ensure the defeat of Jayarajan.
UDF highlights criminal cases of Jayarajan
Jayarajan is an accused in two murder cases- that of Indian Muslim Youth League worker Ariyil Abdul Shukoor in 2012 and of RSS worker Kathiroor Manoj in 2014. This is the key campaign tool for the UDF.
“Not a single woman has lost her husband because of me, not a single child has lost a father because of me. I am not accused in any case barring one for protesting against Pinarayi Vijayan,” said Muralidharan, unleashing a direct attack on Jayarajan in a speech at Kallikkandy, amid thunderous applause from the audience, who are a mix of Congress and its ally Indian Union Muslim League (IUML).
The Congress also makes a point that the Left has no relevance at the national level and hence voting for them is futile. “The Left is contesting altogether in 40 seats. Even if they win in all seats, it won’t be even one-third of the total strength of the parliament. The Left should realise the reality,” Muralidharan says. Coming to the BJP, he says if Modi comes back to power, then we might not even have elections the next time.
The Left focus on national politics
“The one movement which has stood strong against communalism is the Left. We are highlighting the misrule of the RSS-BJP in the last five years; the communal politics of Modi,”Jayarajan tells TNM.
Pic: P Jayarajan Facebook Page
Reacting to the attacks on him as a murder case accused, he alleges, “That is the Congress agenda to get the RSS-BJP votes.”
Vadakara is one of the constituencies which is expected to be impacted by the candidacy of Rahul Gandhi from Wayanad, which could favour the UDF. “What impact has Rahul Gandhi made during all these years when he was the Congress Vice-President, why the party lost most of the states and what impact is it going to make here,” Jayarajan asks.
Rema has called Jayarajan a murderer against which CPI (M) state Secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan lodged a complaint.
The people’s view
“The fact that a candidate is a criminal is a matter of concern for all. In Vadakara, TP is still a living memory. The election discourse can’t be without him,” says Sumesh Sudhakaranm, a young voter at Vallikkad. TP was found hacked at Vallikkad junction, with 57 injury marks on his body. Muralidharan began his campaign after paying tribute to TP by offering flowers at his memorial.
“I am a CPI (M) person, but I believe that criminal cases against P Jayarajan would make the people vote for the Congress. But I won’t say that Jayarajan will be defeated,” a shop owner at Kainatty says.
Madhavan, who runs a shop on the Nadapuram Chompala road, says that in politics, such allegations are common and he is hopeful that Jayarajan will win. “Wasn’t he attacked as well?” he asks.
Jayarajan was attacked by RSS workers in 1999. He lost a finger and his right hand became paralysed in the attack.
Jayarajan is a voter of the Vadakara constituency and hence can counter the outsider tag. He has won to the Kerala Assembly three times from Koothuparamba that falls under Vadakara. He had headed the campaign for P Sathidevi, another CPI (M) leader and his sister in 2004.
Sathidevi had won with an impressive margin of 1.3 lakh votes, the highest ever majority in the constituency. The party is also pinning its hopes on the return of the Loktantrik Janata Dal (LJD), a breakaway faction of the LDF, led by MP Veerendrakumar.
In 2009, a faction of the Janata Dal walked out of the LDF after Veerendrakumar was denied seat to join the UDF. The traditional stronghold of the party in Vadakara is a favourable factor for the Left.
Muralidharan has represented Kozhikode, the district under which Vadakara falls, thrice in Parliament. This has enabled him to build up connections in Vadakara. He has strong support of the IUML too.
Pic: K Muralidharan Facebook Page
VK Sajeevan also hails from Vadakara. He was the BJP’s candidate in 2014 elections and his performance was creditable.
In 2014, Mullappally secured 4,16,479 votes in Vadakara while his nearest rival CPI (M)'s AN Shamseer came second with 4,13,173 votes. VK Sajeevan had garnered 76,313 votes. Mulllappally's margin of victory had fallen to 3,306 votes in 2014.
In 2009, he had won by a margin of over 50,000 votes. This time, however, Mullppally was firm that he won’t contest in the elections.
The other Assembly constituencies that fall under Vadakara are Kuttiadi, Nadapuram, Perambra, Koyilandy, Thalassery and Vadakara. In the 2016 Assembly elections, the LDF had a majority in all the Assembly constituencies barring Kuttiyadi.