Kollam, April 26: A fierce duel between two debutants is on the cards in Kollam constituency as popular Malayalam film actor Mukesh of CPI(M)-led LDF is taking on Congress- headed UDF's Sooraj Ravi for the May 16 Assembly polls.
54-year-old Mukesh fielded by CPI(M) will be looking to retain the seat won by Left veteran P K Gurudasan with a margin of over 8,000 votes in the 2011 polls.
Gurudasan has opted out this time due to old-age. UDF has fielded 40-year-old KPCC executive member and DCC vice president Sooraj Ravi, son of late Congress leader Thoppil Ravi, to wrest the seat.
Kollam segment comprises the city corporation and two panchayats - Thrikaruva and Panayam, both held by LDF after the recent civic polls. Of the 23 wards in city corporation, 13 are held by LDF, seven by UDF and two by BJP. One seat is held by Social Democratic Party of India, a Muslim community backed outfit.
Though Kollam is considered to be a Left bastion, a worrying factor for CPI(M) is the fact that the Revolutionary Socialist Party, which has a strong base in Kollam, is with the UDF camp after it quit the LDF following differences over seat sharing in the Lok Sabha polls.
CPI(M) politburo member M A Baby was defeated by RSP's N K Premachandran in the Lok Sabha polls. Mukesh, hailing from a communist family, began his acting career in 1982 and has acted in more than 250 films.
The actor is not leaving anything to chance and he is busy meeting voters directly. Ganesh, a local tea-shop vendor, said the constituency is a highly politically conscious one. "It is not going to be easy for the actor," he said.
Though the main battle is considered to be between UDF and LDF, NDA has fielded Prof K Sasikumar, a nominee of Janadhipathya Samrakashana Samithi of Rajan Babu faction, a minor partner in the NDA. Sooraj expressed confidence that he would be able to wrest the seat held by LDF for the past one decade.
"Congress workers are with me and I am confident that I will be able to seize it from CPI(M)," he said. On the candidature of Mukesh, the Congress leader said he was not worried about the actor's glamour. With the campaign hotting up, it seems that it would not be a cakewalk for any of the candidates in Kollam.