Stiff fight expected in `Venice of the East`
Alappuzha: Alappuzha, the `Venice of the East` famed for its backwaters and houseboats, is all set to witness an aggressive battle in the April 10 Lok Sabha polls in Kerala between Minister of state for Civil Aviation KC Venugopal of Congress and CB Chandrababu of CPI-M.
Venugopal has his task cut out to retain the seat which he captured from LDF by a margin of more than 57,000 votes in 2009 as the locals are unhappy over non-implementation of promises he made to them during the last election.
Some of these include setting up a cargo complex in Alappuzha, once a busy trade centre, completion of a by-pass and lapses in carrying out the Kuttanad Package for revival of agriculture sector in the area.
Political observes feel that besides this, Venugopal`s alleged link with solar scam accused Saritha S Nair has dented his image.
The scam pertains to Saritha and her accomplice Biju Radhakrishna allegedly cheating people of huge sums of money by offering them solar energy solutions.
However, Venugopal has maintained that he had done everything possible to see the by-pass fructify and brought several new tourist investments in his constituency.
Chandarababu, a new face in the LS poll scene, is a known co-operative society activist.
The constituency, which witnessed the heady days of the start of the Communist movement in Kerala, has returned Congress candidates on most occasions in the last two decades.
People here have always given importance to politics and the poll battle has always been intense as it is the bastion of several leaders like former Chief Minister and Defence Minister AK Antony, CPI-M veteran and Opposition leader VS Achuthanandan and Union Minister Vayalar Ravi.
Election results in the last two decades show that Congress has always had the upper hand in this coastal segment over arch political rival CPI-M led LDF.
In 1980, late veteran CPI-M leader Susheela Gopalan won the seat. However, Congress leader Vakom Purushothaman captured it from CPI-M in 1984 and retained it in 1989. But in 1991, CPI-M candidate TJ Anjalouse again captured it.
However, people changed their mandate in favour of Congress and plumped for present KPCC president VM Sudheeran in 1996, 1998 and 1999 continuously.
In 2004, the constituency went the way of CPI-M when KS Manoj shocked Congress by defeating veteran Sudheeran.
Though Venugopal recaptured the constituency in 2009, the assembly polls held after two years painted a different picture.
Of seven Assembly segments in the constituency, LDF won six and UDF bagged only Haripad, from where Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala made his entry into Assembly.
The constituency with a total electorate of 12,31,230, has 6,41,412 female voters and 5,89,818 male voters.
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