Hectic lobbying for upcoming Kerala assembly bypoll

Thiruvananthapuram: With the date of the upcoming Kuttanadu assembly constituency by-election to be announced anytime now, hectic lobbying has begun in the Congress-led United Democratic Front by hopefuls.

Among those who have shown interest include former Congress legislators P.C. Vishnunath and Joseph Vazhakan, besides local popular youth leader Saji Joseph.

With the local body polls to be held in October and the assembly polls in April/May next year, the Kuttanadu by-election is being seen as a curtain raiser to the bigger battles ahead by the traditional rival political fronts in Kerala.

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The seat fell vacant after sitting NCP legislator and former state Minister Thomas Chandy passed away in December last year.

Businessman-turned-politician, Chandy had completed a hat-trick of wins in the 2016 assembly polls, when he defeated the Kerala Congress (Mani) candidate Jacob Abraham by 4,891 votes.

While things in the ruling CPI-M-led Left has more or less settled and have given the green signal to the NCP, Chandy’s brother Thomas K. Thomas is most likely to get the seat, as it was he for the past 15 years been looking after the constituency, whenever his brother Chandy was out, as he had huge business interests in the Middle East.

But things are not that rosy in the Congress-led UDF as this seat traditionally belonged to the third biggest ally in the UDF – Kerala Congress (Mani), which is currently in shambles as after its founder – K.M. Mani’s death last year, his party for all practical purposes split between veteran party legislator P.J. Joseph and Mani’s son, Jose K. Mani.

The UDF, after it put up an exemplary show in the last year’s Lok Sabha polls by winning 19 out of the 20 seats, fell back when it lost three assembly by-elections, at Pala, Konni and Vatiyoorkavu, all which were citadels of the UDF.

The Congress has expressed its deep displeasure to Jose K. Mani for failing to retain the Pala seat which was held by his father for a record 52 years.

While Joseph who now heads the majority faction in the erstwhile Kerala Congress (Mani) is willing to trade the seat with the Congress, as it was his close aide who lost to Chandy, for another seat when the next assembly elections are held, Jose K. Mani is unhappy of it and has claimed that this was their seat for long.

All this and more will now be known on Tuesday when the UDF high power committee is meeting and the topic of Kuttanadu assembly seat will be discussed.

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