Tough fight likely in assembly seats in Kerala’s Wayanad

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Nestled on the Western Ghats, the district shot to national fame after Congress leader Rahul Gandhi filed his nomination from Wayanad parliamentary constituency in the 2019 Lok Sabha election.
Although Wayanad elected Gandhi, it will not be a cakewalk for the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) in this assembly poll.
Sulthan Bathery, Kalpetta and Mananthavady are the three assembly constituencies in Wayanad. Sulthan Bathery and Mananthavady are reserved for the Scheduled Tribe community, while Kalpetta is the single general assembly segment in Wayanad.
IC Balakrishnan, the sitting MLA of Sulthan Bathery is contesting for the third time on a UDF ticket. He is a representative of the Kurichiya community and trying to retain the seat. CPI(M) has fielded M S Viswanathan, former general secretary of Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee who had resigned from Congress party after ticket for assembly seat was denied to him and joined CPI(M).
By fielding M S Viswanathan from the Kuruma community, CPI(M) is planning to garner Kuruma votes and try to wrest Sulthan Bathery considered to be a UDF stronghold.
NDA has fielded tribal leader C K Janu from Sulthan Bathery. Janu, who belongs to the Adiya community, fought for the tribal issues and was at the forefront during the Muthanga agitation. By fielding her, the BJP is trying to give a message that the party is with the weaker sections.
Mananthavady, another ST reserved constituency of Wayanad is also heading for a tough fight. In the 2016 election, LDF won the seat by fielding OR Kelu. Former Minister P K Jayalekshmi was the UDF candidate in the 2016 election.
This time also, CPM fielded OR Kelu, the sitting MLA while UDF has opted for PK Jayalekshmi. Meanwhile, the NDA has fielded Mukundan Palliyara.
As Mananthavady and Sulthan Bathery seats are reserved for the scheduled tribe, tribal votes will have a major role in the election.
Kalpetta the single general assembly segment of Wayanad is set to witness a triangular fight in this election. In the 2016 election, CK Sasindran of CPI(M) has won from Kalpetta and defeated MV Sreyams Kumar, JDU candidate which was with UDF.
Now, M V Sreyamskumar, LJD chief, is contesting on an LDF ticket from Kalpetta and Kozhikode DCC president T Siddique is the UDF candidate. BJP has fielded TM Subeesh.
Wayanad has been witnessing an inner party feud over seat-sharing and there was also a rift in the UDF camp as the Muslim league earlier claimed the Kalpetta seat.
Congress leaders from the Wayanad district also demanded the seat. Finally, Congress kept the seat and declared T Siddique as its candidate. Five leaders including former MLA KC Rosakutty left Congress over the seat-sharing issue.
Though the district has the lowest number of seats, because of the Rahul Gandhi factor, many national leaders have campaigned in the district.
The election for 140-member Kerala Assembly in 14 districts will be held in a single phase on April 6. The counting of votes will be held on May 2. (ANI)

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