Congress president Rahul Gandhi, who currently represents Amethi in Uttar Pradesh, is contesting from Wayanad also, bringing the spotlight on the constituency.
If the Wayanad MP goes on to become the prime minister, it will be a first for Kerala as so far no one from the state has occupied the top executive seat in Indian politics, though one had become the President of India.
Wayanad Lok Sabha constituency is spread over three districts of Kerala. Wayanad district, which borders Karnataka, is deemed to be backward when compared to other parts of the south-western state.
Wayanad is the latest parliamentary constituency in the country. Congress has won both Lok Sabha elections here since its formation a decade ago. M I Shanavas won with a record margin of 1,53,439 votes in 2009 and retained the seat in 2014, though with a reduced margin.
Do numbers speak?
NCP candidate K Muralidharan’s poor show of 99,633 seats and third position in 2009 was seen as a sign of Wayanad’s affinity for Congress. But its margin came down to 20,870 in 2014. Congress workers feel Rahul Gandhi’s candidacy will reverse the trend and lend him a margin of over 5 lakh votes.
A majority of Amethi’s MLAs are non-Congress leaders of late and so is the case in Wayanad: Four MLAs are of the LDF and the rest are from the UDF camp. The LDF dominates local administrative bodies too.
The assembly constituencies that are part of the Lok Sabha constituency are: Kalpetta, Mananthavady and Sultan Bathery in Wayanad district; Nilambur, Eranad and Wandoor in Malappuram district; and Thiruvambady in Kozhikode district.
Rahul had to cancel his Wayanad visit early this month after a security threat following Maoist attack in the district. He pulled out of a planned visit to Pulwama martyr V V Vasanthakumar’s house.
Why Wayanad could be a safe seat for Rahul Gandhi
Picking Wayanad as Gandhi's constituency is a careful choice as is the calibrated demand to have him contest from a southern Indian seat apart from Amethi where he faces Union Minister Smriti Irani.
For the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, the total number of electors in Wayanad was 11,02,097. Shanavas got 410,703 votes, which was 49.86 per cent of votes polled. He defeated Advocate M. Rahmatullam of the CPI, who got 257,264 (31.23 per cent).
In that election, the Bharatiya Janata Party's C. Vasudevan Master got 31,687 votes which was a mere 3.85 per cent of the votes polled. He came a distant fourth in the contest.
K. Muraleedharan of the Nationalist Congress Party did better than the BJP candidate, coming third with 99,663 votes (12.10 per cent).
Compared to 2009, Shanavas had a tough time winning the seat in 2014, scraping through with a little more than 20,000 votes over the second placed CPI candidate to become one of the 44 Congress MPs in the last Lok Sabha.
In 2014, Shanavas got 377,035 votes or 30.18 per cent of the votes polled compared to CPI's Sathyan Mokeri who got 356,165 votes or 28.51 per cent. However, that election saw the BJP placed third with its candidate P.R. Rasmilnath bagging 80,752 votes (6.46 per cent).
The others in the race, all bit players, fared as follows. Independent candidate P.V. Anvar got 37,123 votes (2.97 per cent), SDPI's Jaleel Neelambra got 14,327 votes (1.146 per cent) and WPOI's Ramla Mampad got 12,645 votes (1.01 per cent).
NOTA votes figured seventh on the tally - 10,735 or 0.85 per cent.
PPA Sageer of AAP got 10,684 votes, which was 0.85 of votes polled, Sathyan Thazemangad, an independent candidate, got 5,476 votes or 0.43 of votes polled.
(With inputs from IANS)