Kanyakumari, Apr 7 : Religion and caste factors would be the key in the high-profile Kanyakumari constituency, where there would a direct face off between the BJP and Congress parties once again in the April 18 Lok Sabha polls.
A fierce two-cornered battle between senior BJP leader and Union Minister Pon Radhakrishnan and Congress heavyweight and sitting MLA H Vasantha Kumar is in the offing in this constituency located in the southernmost tip of the country. Kanyakumari, which was known as Nagercoil Lok Sabha till 2008, is traditionally a Congress stronghold as it had won nine of the 16 general elections. Other than Congress, N Dennis of Tamil Maanila Congress (TMC) was elected twice (1996 and 1998), Mr Pon Radhakrishnan twice (1999 and 2014), the erstwhile Travancore Tamil Nadu Congress (1951), CPM (2004) and the DMK (2009) once from this constituency.
Mr Radhakrishnan is contesting for eighth time in a row, while Vasantha Kumar, representing Nanguneri in the State assembly, has been fielded for the second time in succession. Though there were 29 candidates in the fray, the main fight would be between the two National parties. In the 2014 polls, Radhakrishnan defeated Vasantha Kumar by a margin of 1,28,662 votes. BJP secured 37.62 percent vote, Congress 24.64 per cent and the AIADMK finished third with 17.78 votes. In fact, Vasantha Kumar was the only Congress candidate to retain his deposit in the 2014 polls, when the Party chose to go alone and drew a blank in all the 39 seats.
The BJP’s vote share had increased to 37.62 percent in 2014 polls in Kanyakumari, when compared to 33.24 percent secured by it in the 2009 elections. When the Modi wave carried the saffron party-led NDA to a majority in the 2014 parliamentary elections, Radhakrishnan was the lone BJP candidate elected from Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu without aligning with the Dravidian parties – the DMK and AIADMK. [UNI]