Slugging it out in the mid-summer heat to shed the “outsider” tag with a high voltage campaign,former UN diplomat and Congress candidate Sashi Tharoor contesting from Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha seat banks on the legacy of the state capital to elect high profile personalities to Parliament.
Though the main contest in the seat is between Tharoor,former UN Under Secretary General,and LDF’s P Ramachandran Nair (CPI),the battle has become a multi-cornered fight with BJP state chief P K Krishnadas and BSP’s A Neelalohithadasan Nadar entering the fray.
The Congress is confident that Tharoor’s international profile could work in his favour among educated youths,women and some elite sections in the state capital.
Shrugging his ‘outsider’ tag,Tharoor,born in London to Malayali parents from Palakkad,has smoothly sailed into a campaign mode making hectic rounds of the sprawling constituency and interacting with party workers like any other seasoned politician.
Though lack of fluency in Malayalam may be a minor handicap Tharoor,however,says his Malayalam was strong enough to communicate with the commonman,as he could do with English and Hindi in Parliament. To prove his point,he even spoke in Malayalam at interactive poll meetings.
Another consoling factor for Tharoor is that the Kerala capital has a legacy of sending high profile veterans like late V K Krishna Menon (as CPI-M backed independent in 1971),CPI stalwart M N Govindan Nair (1977) and Congress veteran K Karunakaran (1998).
However,it is not going to be a cakewalk for Tharoor. Though a debutant in the electoral arena,the biggest asset of LDF’s P Ramachandran Nair is his clean image and grass-root level association as party functionary in the district.
Dismissing the Congress’s claims that the party is all set to regain the seat,the LDF campaign managers say that the political climate and the ‘local’ factor is conducive to Nair.
The records show that the constituency had favoured Congress six times since 1977 and the CPI last time with the party stalwart late P K Vasudevan Nair wresting the seat with a handsome margin. In the by-election that followed Nair’s death,CPI’s Pannian Raveendran retained the seat.
Thiruvananthapuram is one of the few seats in Kerala where the Nair community has an upperhand. But,the Nair dominance was for the first time dented by Neelalohithadasan Nadar in 1980 by uniting the votes of his community,which has significant concentration in the assembly segments close to Tamil Nadu’s Kanyakumari district.
Besides their strength of their parties,Congress,CPI and BJP candidates are banking on the Nair vote,though none of them have openly wooed the community leaders.