Wayanad Wanderlust: The Land of Paddy Fields is Fertile Poll Pitch This Election Season
A virtual trip through the green paradise called Wayanad reveals why the constituency is in demand this election season.
The name ‘Wayanad’ is derived from ‘Vayal Nadu’ (in both Tamil and Malayalam), which translates to ‘the land of paddy fields’. (Photo sourced from Kerala Tourism)
Before Gandhi chose it as his second seat to contest general elections, Wayanad was in the news for two reasons. One for being the native place of Havildar VV Vasanthkumar, who was martyred in J&K’s Pulwama and the other for the death of CP Jaleel, a Maoist who was allegedly killed in an encounter with Thunderbolt, the anti-Naxal forces.
A virtual trip through the green paradise reveals why the constituency is in demand this election season.
The Land of Paddy Fields
The name ‘Wayanad’ is derived from ‘Vayal Nadu’ (in both Tamil and Malayalam), which translates to ‘the land of paddy fields’. The Lok Sabha constituency, one of the newest in the state formed after delimitation in 2008, has seen only two elections spread across three districts -- Malappuram and Kozhikode along with Wayanad.
Though the name is Wayanad, the district has only three assembly segments to offer. It is the smallest in terms of number of voters. Moreover, of the 13,25,788 voters, only 5,81,245 are from the district, while three segments from Malappuram district contribute 5,79,083 voters.
The first election from the seat saw Congress candidate MI Shanavas win by a margin of 1,53,439 votes, which prompted the party to state "anyone can win the seat on a Congress ticket”. To win the seat, the Congress saw off the challenge by former KPCC president K Muraleedharan, who had back then contested as an NCP candidate without the support of any of the political alliances. Muraleedharan, the party’s current candidate from Vadakara,
secured 99,663 votes. However, Shanavas’ popularity declined in the 2014 elections and his margin came to 20,870 votes against CPI candidate Sathyan Mokeri.
Of the seven assembly segments in the constituency, three are reserved. Two of the Scheduled Tribes (ST) constituencies in the state -- Mananthavady and Suthan Battery -- are in Wayanad, while Wandoor, which has highest number of voters, is an Assembly segment reserved for Scheduled Castes (SC).
Though there is a dispute over the demographic distribution for lack of authentic data, it is evident that the Muslim population plays a crucial role in the constituency. The major reason for the different versions is the confusion between Wayanad seat and Wayanad Assembly segment.
The Christian population in Wayanad district (not the Lok Sabha segment) is around 21 percent, while that of Muslims is 29 percent, according to the 2011 Census. The ST population is said to be 12%, while the SC population is 4%. In all three segments from Malappuram and the one from Kozhikode, Muslims are more in number than the others. Nilambur Assembly segment is another stronghold of Christians with around 20% of the population.
Wayanad is a tri-junction as it borders both Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. It is equidistant from the nearest airport in Kozhikode, popular tourist spots, Ooty in Tamil Nadu and Mysore in Karnataka by around 100 km. The Kozhikode–Kollegal National Highway 766 (formerly NH 212) passes through Wayanad district. En route Mysore on NH 212, past Wayanad district boundary, which is also the Kerala state boundary, NH 766 passes through Bandipur National Park. There is a night traffic ban imposed on this stretch since 2009.
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