Kerala gears up for crucial bypolls

Hectic parleys in ruling LDF and opposition UDF

With bypolls for two Assembly seats in Kerala scheduled to be held along with Bihar elections in November, hectic parleys have begun in ruling LDF, opposition UDF and BJP about selection of candidates and poll strategy.

Coming as it is, ahead of the crucial Assembly elections slated for early next year, the by-elections are seen by many as a referendum on the CPM led government’s four and half year performance. The Chavara and Kuttanad seats fell vacant following the death of sitting MLAs N Vijayan Pillai of CMP and Thomas Chandy of NCP respectively. Both belonged to the ruling LDF.

The LDF has all along maintained that it would seek people's mandate for the development activities undertaken during its regime. As the by-elections are taking close on the heels of the gold smuggling case, alleged corruption in construction of houses under Life Mission, the Congress led UDF is keen to go to the people on these issues besides raising the alleged failures of the government.

In 2016 Assembly polls Mr Chandy won the Kuttanad seat by margin of 4819 votes. While the LDF has decided to field Mr Chandy’s brother Thomas K Thomas, the UDF is yet to take a call regarding its candidate. The vertical split in Kerala Congress (M) which contested the seat in 2016, is also a major cause of worry for the UDF.

The BDJS, an ally of the BJP, had secured 33,040 votes in the last elections. However, political observers say the BJDS’ formidable performance was because of its candidate Subhash K Vasu who has now been ousted from the party. Therefore the BDJS may not pose any major threat, they say.

As far as Chavara is concerned, it will be a direct fight between the LDF and UDF. In 2016 Mr Pillai had wrested the Chavara seat from Mr Shibu Baby John of the RSP by a margin of 6189 votes.

While the UDF has decided to retain Mr Shibu Baby John for the bypoll, the LDF is planning to field a new face. The BJP is not a significant force in the constituency.

With Kerala Chief Electoral Officer Mr Teeka Ram Meena announcing that the poll schedule for the two constituencies will be out within a week, the principal political parties have geared up their electoral machinery.

Though the campaigning may be low profile and less noisy this time due to Covid – 19 protocol, there will no dearth of excitement considering the interest that people of Kerala take in politics.

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