CHENGANNUR: The mother of all battles in central Travancore is being fought on the banks of Pampa as two-term legislator P C Vishnunath tries to ward off a formidable thrust by forces determined to end his victory parade. Mr K K Ramachandran Nair (CPM), a former lieutenant of Opposition leader V S Achuthanandan, is the principal rival since the LDF base is strong enough to take on the UDF single-handedly. Mr Vishnunath had effectively floored the Left advance in 2006 and 2011, though.
Advancing from the other phalanx is BJP strongman P S Sreedharan Pillai, with an appeal cutting across communities. His sway does not end with traditional base of saffron backers in the constituency, which fielded a Jan Sangh candidate in 1957.
The spoiler could be Ms Sobhana George, who had wrested the constituency from the Left through a two-term consecutive win for the Congress even before Mr Vishnunath thought himself on electoral lines. Mr Vishnunath, given his celeb status in the media, is no pushover. Yet Ms Sobhana George has launched herself on the arena with the blessings of Bishop Mar Athanesius.
Does she enjoy the full backing of the clergy? Not sure because there appears to be a differing perception. She was in full form, readying for the fight with Mission Chengannur ( call it the magna carta of Chengannur, courtesy Sobhana George).
Electoral battles are such that voters get no hang of what motivates contestants. Says advocate Ramachandran Nair: “There has been no development here because Mr Vishnu-nath was preoccupied with his time on the channels. Development here has become just high-mast lights. Sure we are going to take back the seat this time”.
But the electoral matrix does not match Mr Nair’s ambitions. The 2014 Lok Sabha election gave a clear lead for the UDF- 7, 7818 votes. Mr Vishnunath won Assembly elections back to back on 50 percent plus votes. But he faces the criticism that the last five years has been slow on development.
He refutes: “I have tried to bring maximum development to the constituency. But I admit that in a few places this has not taken off because of the lack of collaboration by the civic bodies, ruled by Opposition parties”. Ms George attributes it to Mr Vishnunath’s ineptitude. Between Ms George and Mr Vishnunath, the fight is in-house and electors are none too happy with it.
But Mr Pillai has the backing from unexpected quarters. Mar Joseph Mar Thoma, while launching his book, wished miracles to happen. Mr Pillai enjoys NSS confidence. He is their legal advisor. The BDJS of SNDP Yogam chief Vellappally Natesan may not back Mr Pillai to the hilt but the deficit will be offset by NSS support.
Says Mr Madhavan Pillai, a nephew of actor G K Pillai: “This time Vishnu is up against the wall. But this constituency has marched on from its traditional Hindutva profile and from its revolutionary digressions during the liberation struggle. It is fixated on a modern, secular leader”....