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|September 29, 1999||
P M Sayeed seeks record tenth win
The deputy speaker of the dissolved Lok Sabha P M Sayeed has not tasted electoral defeat in his political career spanning over four decades during which he represented Lakshadweep for nine consecutive terms. As the Congress nominee from the smallest Lok Sabha constituency, Sayeed, 63, is this time seeking to become the only politician to have the honour of getting elected from the same constituency for the tenth consecutive term.
Sayeed was only 26 when he was first elected from Lakshadweep in 1967 when it was declared a Scheduled Tribe reserved Lok Sabha constituency. Before that K Nalla Koya Thangal had represented it as a nominated member in 1957 and 1962 through presidential proclamations. Sayeed had also been elected unopposed in the 1971 election. A former Union minister, Sayeed won the 1998 poll by 966 votes over his lone rival Dr K K Mohammed Koya (Janata Dal) who had been consistently opposing him in seven general elections since 1977.
Dr Koya is not contesting this time. Sayeed's campaign managers expect a bigger margin of victory for him in the October 3 poll because of the absence of Dr Koya and the recent split in the Janata Dal.
A lawyer by profession, Sayeed is involved in a four-cornered contest with the main rivals being Dr K P Muthu Koya (JD-U) and F K Hussain (JD-S). The fourth in the fray is an independent.
Lakshadweep consists of 27 islands scattered in the Arabian Sea off the Kerala coast. Of them, only ten are inhabited. The strength of the electorate is 36,870. Muslims constitute 95 per cent of the Lakshadweep population. The constituency had recorded 86 per cent voting in the 1998 election, the highest in any of the Lok Sabha constituencies that year.
Candidates depended on ships to cover the ten islands for canvassing in past elections. For the first time, the Lakshadweep administration has made available helicopters for the candidates provided they bore the rentals.
Sayeed, who knows his voters personally, highlights the development that has taken place in the islands during the Congress rule at the Centre. Forty-three polling booths have been set up in the islands with separate booths for women. In Bitra island, there is only one polling booth for the men and women voters numbering 200.
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