Congress sniffs a change at Kerala's Alathurtext_fields
Alathur (Kerala): For the Congress party in Kerala, the erstwhile Ottapalam reserved Lok Sabha constituency evokes passion and emotion as it was from here that diplomat-turned-politician K.R. Narayanan eventually crested Raisina Hill as the first Dalit to become the President of India.
Ottapalam constituency in Palakkad district ceased to exist in 2009 and in its place came Alathur.
Just in Narayanan's case, the Congress party sniffs that history is in the making ever since young 32-year-old Remya Haridas, spotted by Congress president Rahul Gandhi himself, has been fielded to take on P.K. Biju of the CPI-M, who is aiming for a hat-trick of wins from Alathur. Biju turns 45 on Wednesday.
If Haridas wins, she will be the first woman Dalit MP from the state.
Incidentally, after a hat trick of wins from Ottapalam for the Congress, the last in 1991, Narayanan in 1992 became the Vice President and five years later, the President.
Surprisingly after 1991, no Congress candidate has won from this constituency. This time around there is marked cheer on the face of the average Congress worker campaigning hard for Haridas, who seems to have gelled well in the constituency.
Haridas is the President of the Kunnamangalam village council and one of her strengths that she has been using well during her campaign is her ability to sing.
While Biju is very passionate listener of music, Haridas is an accomplished singer and makes it a point to render at least one song at each of her public meetings. Not for nothing has she literally come as a shocker for the CPI-M, who has been holding on to this constituency for a record 23 years without a break.
But Biju is confident that despite him hailing from Kottayam, since 2009 for the past decade he has literally turned a full-time resident of Alathur, knows every nook and corner of the constituency and he has done yeoman service to his electorate.
In the 2014 polls, Biju increased his margin from 20,960 votes in 2009 to 37,312 votes.
If the votes the CPI-M polled in the 2016 assembly elections are taken into account, Biju's lead would swell to over 90,000.
While the contest is between BIju and Haridas, the BJP-led NDA has been making substantial gains with its candidates increasing their votes from 53,890 in 2009 to 87,803 in 2014.
This time the seat has been handed to NDA ally, the Bharath Dharma Jana Sena, which has fielded popular leader. T.V. Babu. Hence, it remains to be seen if the NDA candidate further increases his share, who will benefit: Biju or Haridas?