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Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Cong-led UDF in Kerala declares candidates for Kuttanad, Chavara bypolls

The seats, both of which were held by the LDF, fell vacant after the demise of sitting MLAs Thomas Chandy in December last year and N Vijayan Pillai in March this year.

Written by Vishnu Varma | Kochi |
September 8, 2020 6:40:56 pm
Shibu Baby John (left) will contest from Chavara; Jacob Abraham will contest from Kuttanad

The Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) on Tuesday declared candidates for the November bye-elections to Kuttanad and Chavara assembly constituencies in Kerala.

For Kuttanad, a rural constituency famous for paddy farming below the sea-level, the UDF has picked Jacob Abraham, who belongs to the PJ Joseph faction of the Kerala Congress (M). In Chavara, a constituency in Kollam district, the candidate will be Shibu Baby John of the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP), a UDF ally. Both leaders were candidates in the respective constituencies in the 2016 Assembly elections too.

The seats, both of which were held by the LDF, fell vacant after the demise of sitting MLAs Thomas Chandy in December last year and N Vijayan Pillai in March this year. The LDF and the NDA are yet to finalise the names for the bypolls.

The announcement of the bypolls by the Election Commission last week had taken the political parties in Kerala by surprise since the tenure of the present Kerala Assembly is slated to end in May next year. If the bypolls are held, the newly-elected MLAs will have just six months in office. In fact, the Kerala chief electoral officer had suggested to the Central Election Commission against holding the bypolls considering the tenure of the Assembly and the prevailing Covid-19 situation in the state.

With Covid-19 infections on the rise, there are reports that the Kerala government and the Opposition may make a combined appeal before the Election Commission to call off the bypolls. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan is reported to have spoken to Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala over phone in this regard.

Kerala is also scheduled to hold local body elections next month as the five-year tenure of the public representatives is slated to end by November 12. Political parties are apprehensive of the dangers of running campaigns and mingling closely with the public due to the pandemic. However, the possibility of local body elections getting postponed is remote. Currently, the ruling LDF enjoys a majority over corporations, municipalities, block panchayats and panchayats.

Realignment of political forces in Kerala

Before the local body elections and the subsequent Assembly elections, the political discourse in central Kerala is set to witness a re-alignment, with the Jose K Mani faction of the KC(M) expected to cross over to the LDF soon.

The Election Commission order recognising the Jose K Mani faction of KC(M) as the original party and rewarding him with the ‘two leaves’ symbol has energised cadres. Hectic negotiations are taking place behind the curtains between leaders of the KC(M) and the CPI(M) on seat arrangement for both the local body and Assembly elections. By welcoming KC(M) into the coalition, the CPM expects to make steady inroads into the Christian vote-bank of the UDF, especially in Kottayam, Idukki, Alappuzha and Pathanamthitta districts.

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