Ever since Independence, the Congress party has held somewhat of a monopoly over government formation in India, having in power for almost five decades all together, and yet, there's a Lok Sabha seat in the state of Kerala for which the winning formula has yet been cracked by the grand old party. The Muslim dominant constituency in Kerala hasn't returned a single Congress candidate since 1951.
Here's the story of Ponnani, a small Lok Sabha seat in Kerala which has never voted Congress to power. But will the streak be broken in 2019 or will Congress suffer another rejection?
Life in the ancient port of Ponnani runs at a pace unfettered by timetables and deadlines, which is reflected in the somewhat impersonal patience of the boatmen who ferry passengers across the gleaming blue waters formed by the confluence of two rivers and the Arabian Sea. It is a small coastal city which was once famous for its spice trade. In the middle ages, it developed as a prominent trading centre with the Arab world and later the Portuguese attacked it many times to control its spice trade. Today, Ponnani is famous as a fishing town and the Ponnani Canal that divides the city into two.
Roughly between 1951-1971, the Congress put in all the effort to win the Ponnani Lok Sabha seat but the general elections every year only witnessed a fluctuation in Congress's vote share between a low of 17.64 percent to a high of 45.12 percent.
The end result remained the same: In all these elections it lost to the Left and the Kisan Mazdoor Praja Party.
Left with no trump card to play, the Congress entered into an alliance with the India Union Muslim League (IUML) hence restricting itself to field candidate from their party for the mentioned seat.
Since the first general election in 1951, Ponnani has been represented in the Lok Sabha by:
In 1977, IUML national leader G M Banatwala wrested Ponnani where he enjoyed landslide victory for seven times, while another national leader Ebrahim Sulaiman Sait sailed to an easy win in 1991. Former Union Minister E Ahamed won the seat in 2004. Sitting MP E T Mohammed Basheer retained Ponnani in 2009 and 2014.
For the 2019 Lok Sabha election, the Congress has once again refrained from fielding a candidate from Ponnani. The electoral fight in Ponnani is a keenly watched one with United Democratic Front incumbent E.T. Mohammed Basheer pitted against Left Democratic Front (LDF) Independent candidate P.V. Anvar in a no-holds-barred electoral battle.
The Ponnani Lok Sabha constituencies witnessed more than 74% polling in 2019 Lok Sabha Elections. There were long queues of voters outside several booths even after the polling time ended at 6 p.m.
The following was the percentage of voter turnout in the Assembly segments of the Ponnani constituency:
Come May 23, we will find which direction will the future of Ponnani sail this election year.