Kerala bypolls: It's fight to finish for Pinarayi Vijayan, Cong
Kochi, May 3 (IANS) The much-awaited by-election to the Thrikkakara Assembly constituency, which is now being touted as a fight to finish between Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan-led Left and the Congress-led UDF, will take place on May 31.
The bypoll was necessitated after 71-year-old Congress legislator P.T. Thomas, who represented the constituency, passed away on December 22.
Thomas had one term in the Lok Sabha and was a four-time legislator.
Thrikkakara constituency was carved out of the erstwhile Tripunithura Assembly constituency and the first Assembly poll was held in 2011. Since then the constituency has always been a traditional Congress bastion.
But with prestige at stake for Vijayan, who won a resounding victory in the April 2021 Assembly polls by becoming the first CPI-M chief minister to win a successive term, he will under no circumstances wish to spoil his first anniversary in office with a defeat.
In the 140-member Kerala Assembly, the Left has 99 members. Local legislator P. Rajeev, from Ernakulam district, who is also the state Industries Minister, said their target in the by-election is to touch 100.
"The key agenda of the by-election is going to be development and the K-Rail, (the pet project of Vijayan). The station of K-Rail in Ernakulam district is planned at Kakkanad, which comes under this constituency. This election is going to be held between the Left, who are for development and the others, who are out to thwart a prestigious project," said Rajeev.
As soon as the date was announced, the Left has given the charge of bypoll to its newly appointed Left Democratic Front convener E.P. Jayarajan, and his key aides will be Rajeev and M. Swaraj, a firebrand young party leader who suffered a shock defeat while trying to retain the Tripunithura Assembly constituency in last year's Assembly polls.
However, the Left appears to be on the back foot as two stalwarts -- Vijayan and CPI-M state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan -- are out of the country undergoing medical treatments.
The last date for filing of nomination is May 11 and neither of these leaders are expected to be here by that time and hence will be keeping track of the developments from their hospital beds in the US.
State Congress president K. Sudhakaran said their candidate would be announced on Wednesday.
And, if there are no last minute glitches, the widow of Congress legislator Thomas - Uma Thomas may be fielded from the seat.
On Tuesday, she told the media that at the moment she was in no position to say anything.
"I have been living in Thrikkakara in this house for the past 25 years. In the past two Assembly elections, I had accompanied P.T. (Thomas as is known to all) in the campaign and am familiar with the constituency," said Uma.
The BJP will have the same candidate who in the 2021 polls secured 15,483 votes and finished third.
But the developments that need to be watched is the new found link between the AAP and the Twenty20, which is presently in power in a few local bodies in and around Ernakulam.
Twenty20 is headed by Sabu Jacob, who heads the Kitex group of companies, which was in the news last year when he after having difference of opinion with various departments of the Kerala government against his business units decided to make a fresh investment of over Rs 3,000 crore in Telangana, that gave him a rousing welcome.
"AAP is now a national party and we are confident of working here and will see how best we can come out," said Jacob.
One thing that's certain is since now it's going to be four-cornered contest, any votes which the AAP and the Twenty20 combined candidate take could well be a bit of trouble for the Congress candidate as there is hardly any chance for losing of votes from the Left, and the BJP having a miniscule presence, every vote for the new entrant could well put the Congress in a spot.
With Congress veteran K.V. Thomas, who is now no longer in the good books of the state Congress leadership, already made his stand clear that he would toe the line of development. On Tuesday, he said he was for a project like K-Rail.
Former Congress Minister and former legislator Dominic Presentation, who is eyeing the seat, said the sympathy factor might not work in a constituency like Thrikkakara and it would be a political battle.