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Konni:

It is a tough battle in Kerala’s Konni Assembly seat where three political parties are vying for the top position.

The seat is regarded as an Adoor Prakash bastion, the veteran Congress leader who has held the seat since 1996. He vacated the seat to successfully contest the Attingal Lok Sabha constituency. In his absence, the fight is intense as the three aspirants are equally poised.

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Prakash has been replaced by another Congress veteran P. Mohanraj. The CPI-M has brought in its local face, youth leader K.U. Jenish Kumar and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) sprang a surprise in bringing back its most popular face K. Surendran, who fought a spirited Lok Sabha election for the Pathanamthitta seat. Though Surendran finished third behind the CPI-M candidate, he made giant strides in the vote share and more than doubled the votes that his party’s candidate got in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

Congress’s P. Mohanraj has a tough challenge ahead. Despite, the statistics favouring the Congress, things, however, have turned challenging for Mohanraj after the party overlooked Prakash’s recommendation to field his close aide Robin Peter from the seat. Miffed close aides of Prakash even threatened to field a rebel candidate, but after intervention from the top leadership, Prakash beat a retreat and decided to toe the party line and has extended his support to Mohanraj.

However, the State Congress president Mullapally Ramachandran made no bones about the way things have panned out in Konni and said Prakash can take the full ‘credit’, if their party candidate wins or loses the seat.

“Prakash is fully immersed in the campaign in the constituency and whatever happens in Konni, Prakash would be responsible for it,” said Ramachandran.

For CPI-M’s Jenish Kumar, the disarray in the Congress is seen as a bolt from the blue and he expects that things would work to their advantage and this would be evident when votes are counted.

State CPI-M secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan is confident about their victory in Konni. He said the scenario has changed from what it was there during the Lok Sabha polls.

“With the Pala result tilting to the Left, things have changed and in all the five Assembly constituencies, the Left has an edge and there will be a repeat of Pala,” said Balakrishnan.

The Left is also sitting pretty because of the displeasure that BDJS — the second biggest ally of the NDA — has been showing which could be a game-changer. BDJS chief Tushar Vellapally has gone on record by saying that in politics there are no permanent friends or foes.

“Both the Left and the Congress-led UDF are wooing us, which is a good sign of our acceptance. We are yet to take a call on the olive branch that has come towards us,” said Vellapally.

BJP’s Surendran, however, is looking confident, claiming that he would be the dark horse in Konni as he and his party feels that the Sabarimala temple issue could tilt the balance.

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