Battle for Nemom: Can Congress wrest BJP's lone seat in Kerala?
Thiruvananthapuram, Mar 13: All eyes would be on Nemom constituency, often referred to as the 'Gujarat of Kerala', as the poll battle heats up.
Nemom, a suburb in Kerala's capital Thiruvananthapuram, is the only seat that BJP managed to win in 2016 assembly polls. When the party scripted history, the BJP leaders had referred Nemom as the 'Gujarat of Kerala".
The BJP, which is planning to make inroad into the southern states, is hoping to make real big gains this time, it is defending just one seat that it holds in Kerala.
Can Congress wrest BJP 'bastion' Nemom
However, to upset BJP chances this time, Congress is playing its cards close to the chest.
Asked if the party had finalised the candidate for the Nemom constituency, the lone seat won by the BJP in the 2016 assembly polls, leader of Opposition in the state Assembly Ramesh Chennithala said it would not be a weak candidate.
Speculation is rife that the congress high command was keen that either Chandy or Chennithala should be prepared to try their luck from the prestigious Nemom seat to wrest it from the saffron party. However, the veteran leaders have wished contest from their respective seats.
"I will contest from the Haripad constituency. Haripad is like my mother. The people there love me. I can't leave the constituency. So, I will contest from there," said Chenithalla.
Rumour is also rife that this time around Congress will be fielding MP from Thiruvananthapuram Shashi Tharoor, a decision backed by Rahul Gandhi.
BJP chances in Kerala
In 2016, the BJP's veteran O Rajgopal fondly referred to as Rajettan created history by garnering 67,813 votes against CPI(M) candidate V Shivankutty, who managed to get 59,142 votes. Congress-led UDF finished in a distant third with just 13,860 votes secured by the JD(S) candidate V Surendran Pillai.
BJP got a 9.97 per cent vote swing in Nemom, when it wrest the seat from CPI(M).
This time, Kummanam Rajashekaran, who also enjoys RSS backing is likely to be BJP candidate from Nemom seat.
In Kerala, where the fight is primarily being seen as between the ruling Left front (LDF) and the Congress-led UDF, the BJP has been working hard to emerge as a strong force.
Kerala will go to polls in a single phase on April 6. The counting of votes will be held on May 2.