Kochi: The mystery over the arrival of Union tourism minister Alphons Kannanthanam as the NDA candidate in Ernakulam Parliamentary constituency is hotly debated in the constituency even as the campaigning by the three prominent candidates progress at a rapid pace.
Kannanthanam’s arrival after the revolt by sitting Congress MP K.V. Thomas following the denial of the seat to him brings him under the lens. At the press conference where Mr Thomas fumed in Delhi, he did not categorically reject an option to join BJP. One theory went to the extent of a backdoor connect between the two resulting in Kannanthanam’s arrival in Ernakulam in order to spoil Hibi Eden’s chances.
However, political pundits give scant regard for Kannanthanam’s ability to spoil Hibi chances given the profile of both. While Kannanthanam is a Syrian Catholic belonging to the Syro Malabar church, Hibi Eden is a Latin Catholic. Out of the 12.49 lakh electorate (as per 2016 Assembly statistics) in Ernakulam LS constituency, there are over 2.50 lakh Latin Catholic voters while the number of Syrian Christians is around 60,000 out of a total of over 3.50 lakh Christian votes in the constituency. Kannanthanam can hardly hope to break into the Latin vote base while Syrian Christian votes rarely go to BJP.
“Kannanthanam’s case is really peculiar. On one hand it may be naive to expect the votes of the faithful who may be protesting on the Sabarimala issue to go to Kannanthanam while on the other hand he would struggle to convince Christian voters in Ernakulam. BJP has committed a blunder on the candidature in that respect,” said a political observer adding Kannanthanam is at present seen regaling the electorate with his histrionics.
The seat was initially allotted by NDA to BDJS but it came Kannanthanam way in the last minute shuffle. While BJP had polled 99,003 votes in 2014 Parliament elections in the constituency, its count went up to 1,43,572 votes in the seven Assembly segments put together that constitute the Lok Sabha seat, in 2016 Assembly elections. It has to be seen how many votes Kannanthanam will be able to garner, especially of Christians through overt and covert moves.