Kannur: The political hotspot of Kannur is set to witness a fierce Lok Sabha poll contest between sitting Congress MP K Sudhakaran, who is relying on the work done in the constituency, and CPI-M's P K Sreemathi as she counts on the anti-incumbency factor to tip the scales in favour of the Left alliance.
For both the ruling United Democratic Front and Left Democratic Front, the battle is going to be a crucial one as Sudhakaran is the most aggressive face of the Congress in Kerala while Sreemathy is a senior woman CPI-M leader and the party's central committee member.
Both have served as ministers in the state in different periods and have strong roots in the constituency.
As he looks to defend his seat, Sudhakaran is banking on the various development projects which he claims he has brought to the constituency.
A vigorous campaigner, Sudhakaran enjoys full support in the party ranks as he has been at the forefront in resisting the Marxist onslaught in the area which is often rocked by political clashes.
Sudhakaran wrested the seat from CPI-M in 2009 by defeating its candidate KK Ragesh by a handsome margin of 43,151 votes.
Sreemathi, the CPI-M candidate, is an outspoken leader who came up from the ranks through the party's women's wing, AIDWA. The leader seen as a frontline campaigner for gender justice is now eyeing victory in the seat where, out of a total electorate of 11,41,866, a sizeable section of 6,10,851 voters are women.
But although Kannur is the cradle of communism in Kerala, it has returned Congress nominees to Parliament for around two decades between 1980 and 1999.
After the iconic Marxist AK Gopalan of CPI-M in 1952, the seat slipped out of the Left's hands before it regained it in 1998 through AP Abdullakutty's successes in 1999 and 2004.
But strange are the ways of politics and Abdullakutty is now a Congress MLA and trenchant critic of CPI-M.
Congress leaders who have won from Kannur include Union Minister of State for Home Mullapally Ramachandran, who last time switched to the nearby Vatakara seat where he is back in the fray this time.