Campaigning for April 6 assembly polls in Kerala will end by evening on Saturday. The order has been given in keeping with the instructions of the Election Commission and the model code of conduct to ensure free and fair elections.
Here is a look at the key battles in the Assembly elections:
One of the key centres of the Sabarimala protests, the hilly constituency is one among the seats targeted by BJP that has fielded state president K Surendran as its candidate. He will face the challenge from sitting MLA KU Jenish Kumar of LDF and Robin Peter of UDF. While it is a matter of prestige for the saffron party to win in the seat, the epicentre of the Sabarimala movement, developmental issues could play a bigger role in the constituency hit hard by the fall of prices of Rubber.
In the 2016 Assembly polls, Nemom grabbed national headlines, when the BJP opened its account in the Kerala Assembly when its star candidate — former union minister O Rajagopal defeated CPI-M leader V Sivankutty and left the Congress-led UDF candidate, a former state Minister V Surendran Pillai of the then Janata Dal (U), a poor third.
The CPI-M for long has been taunting the Congress that it allowed Rajagopal to win by bringing a weak candidate and with O Rajagopal himself publicly stating about the alleged backchannel vote trading between UDF and BJP, winning the seat has become a prestige issue for the Congress who has fielded sitting MP and son of former CM K Karunakaran, K Muraleedharan as their candidate. However, with BJP fielding former Meghalaya governor Kummanam Rajasekharan to retain the seat and CPM fielding Sivankutty to take back its former stronghold the seat is the most talked-about seat in the state.
In what could be a classic case of role reversal, Mani C Kappan who captured the Kerala Congress bastion for the Left Front is set to contest as a UDF candidate against LDF candidate Kerala Congress (M) Chairman Jose K. Mani, who was defeated by former when he stood as the UDF candidate last time after the death of his father and Kerala Congress strongman KM Mani.
The contest is crucial for both sides as it could also decide the fate of the Kerala Congress factions that are eye-balling each other from different sides.
The northern Kerala constituency is key for a single reason—CM Pinarayi Vijayan is contesting to retain his seat. The simple fact that it took congress till the eleventh hour to find a candidate for the seats tells the course of the wind in the constituency. While BJP has fielded former state President CK Padmanabhan and Congress C Raghunath, the real notable challenge for Vijayan may come from the mother of ‘Walayar sisters — a mother seeking justice for her two daughters whose bodies were discovered after being sexually abused.
Palakkad and its railway station have been traditionally the door to the state from the rest of the country. For years the constituency, with a significant non-Malayali population, has witnessed a three-sided competition with the Left coming third behind Congress and BJP last time despite a statewide pro-left trend. BJP has fielded metro man E Sreedharan as its candidate and has projected him as the future chief minister. However, his road to victory will not be easy as he will be facing incumbent MLA and firebrand Congress leader Shafi Parambil and CPM’s CP Pramod.