In Kerala’s Ernakulum, it may go down to the wire, as gripping political contest unfolds

Kochi (Kerala) [India], April 5 (ANI): From the Sabarimala temple issue to the Church dispute, Ernakulam district consisting of 14 assembly constituencies, is witnessing a gripping political contest.

April 5, 2021

National

6 min

zeenews

Kochi (Kerala) [India], April 5 (ANI): From the Sabarimala temple issue to the Church dispute, Ernakulam district consisting of 14 assembly constituencies, is witnessing a gripping political contest.
Considered a Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) bastion, the political scenario of Ernakulam district changed a few months back when in the local body election the CPI(M)-led LDF, wrested the Kochi corporation after a decade.
In the 14 constituencies, UDF has nine and LDF holds five. But the picture may not be the same this time. National level leaders of all the major parties in Kerala led high voltage campaigns here. Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, CPI (M) Polit Bureau member Prakash Karat were among the leaders who campaigned for their candidates.
Amit Shah started his campaign in the district by choosing the Thrippunithura constituency, where the three fronts are fighting neck to neck. And also, Thrippunithura is one of the constituencies which is discussing the Sabarimala issue as the prominent subject in this election. The campaign was fueled by the remarks made by the sitting MLA of CPI(M) M Swaraj in support of the women’s entry into the Sabarimala temple.
BJP has fielded a strong candidate in the district to fight here. KS Radhakrishnan, who is the BJP State Vice President and former Chairman of Kerala Public Service Commission and former Vice-Chancellor of Sanskrit University. UDF fielded the former minister and senior Congress leader K Babu as the candidate from here. From 1991 to 2011, Babu emerged victorious here. But he lost to CPIM’s M Swaraj last time.
When he contested last time, bar bribery case against him was the main poll issue and later he was arraigned as an accused. But now, the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau have given him a clean chit.
A face-off between the Latin Catholic Church and the State Government over the deep sea fishing project which created a controversy in the state will be one of the major deciders of this election in the district. Latin Catholic votes matters in three constituencies – Ernakulam, Kochi and Vypin.
Another important decider in the district is the presence of Twenty20, a new political party that is not a part of any front but backed by the diversified Kitex group. In the 2020 local body election held last December, the outfit expanded its political ambition by contesting four neighbouring panchayats and registered a thumping victory in three of them.
Twenty20 also won two district panchayat seats and four block panchayat seats. They fielded candidates this time from 8 constituencies- Muvattupuzha, Kothamangalam, Perumbavoor, Kunnathunadu, Thrikkakkara, Ernakulam, Kochi and Vypeen.
In this, the Kunnathunadu constituency has a strong swing to the corporate outfit VP Sajeendran of Congress, managed to retain the Kunnathunad seat by 2,679 votes last time. But the Twenty20 has a good vote base, which may prove crucial for other fronts.
The Paravur constituency is one of the strong constituencies of UDF which had won by VD Satheesan, the sitting MLA and the Congress leader for the last four times.
Satheesan will likely be made Finance Minister if the UDF is elected to power this time. He is the main voice of UDF in and out of the legislative assembly against the alleged irregularities in the State Finance Ministry and in the controversial Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB).
CPI has fielded MT Nixon from CPI and NDA has fielded AB Jayaprakash of BDJS. Satheesan had won from this seat beating Sarada Mohan of CPI by a margin of 20,634 votes in 2016.
The Church dispute between the Jacobite and Orthodox factions will affect the Piravom constituency which is situated on the border of Ernakulam and Kottayam districts.
The Kerala Congress (J) chairman Anoop Jacob, two-time MLA and current incumbent has been fielded again by the UDF. Sindhumol Jacob is the LDF candidate from the Kerala Congress (M) here. NDA has fielded M Ashish.
The road shows of Rahul Gandhi and Union Minister Mukthar Abbas Naqvi brought in the buzz in the constituency during campaigning.
Kalamassery, the one and only constituency of the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) of UDF is one of the focal points of the allegations of corruption against the former UDF government.
VK Ebrahim Kunju, the incumbent is an accused in the Palarivattom flyover scam case, is not in the fray this time. The IUML has however, fielded his son, VE Abdul Gafoor from here and that has created a controversy of dynasty politics.
The CPIM has fielded their strong face in the district, P Rajeev, the former Rajya Sabha member against Gafoor. There was an initial uproar in the Muslim League district committee over the candidature of Abdul Gafoor and that given a slight edge to the LDF camp. The NDA has fielded a BDJS candidate in the constituency, PS Jayaraj. (ANI)

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