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Rival fronts bracing up for direct fight in Kalamassery

Renu Ramanath

No alliance between LDF and Democratic Indira Congress (Karunakaran)

KOCHI: The industrial township of Kalamassery is witnessing an almost direct battle between the Left Democratic Front (LDF) and the United Democratic Front (UDF) for wresting control of the Municipality.

Retaining power is a matter of prestige for the UDF, which had been in power for two consecutive terms since the formation of the municipality.

For the LDF, it is a critical fight to gain control of Kalamassery, which had been under its rule for decades when it was a panchayat.

The UDF came to power in 1995 when the polls were conducted for the first time after the formation of the municipality in 1991.

Though the UDF had won majority in the last polls in 2000 also, the factional feuds within the Congress had led to the current Municipal chairman N.K. Pavithran being elected to the post with the support of the LDF. Mr. Pavithran is now contesting from ward no. 25 as an Independent with LDF support.

The absence of any open alliance between the Democratic Indira Congress (Karunakaran) and the LDF makes the election scenario of this municipality more interesting. According to CPI(M) leaders, the alliance could not be worked out mainly due to squabbles within the DIC(K).

However, DIC(K) district president K.B. Mohammedkutty said the party has fielded candidates in 22 seats. He said the DIC(K) would support the LDF wherever it has not put up candidates. "Our main agenda is to defeat the UDF at any cost," he said.

Kalamassery Municipality has 39 wards, with 12 reserved for women.

The chairpersonship of the municipality is also reserved for women this time. While the LDF has divided the seats between five of its constituents, the UDF's seat-sharing was comparatively easy with the Congress and the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) dividing the seats between them.

In LDF, the CPI(M) is contesting 31 seats, with the CPI in the fray in four seats. Two seats have been given to the RSP and one each to the Congress (S) and Kerala Congress (Joseph).

However, in one of the seats given to the RSP, Ravindran Pillai, a former Congress leader who has joined the RSP is contesting.

In the UDF, the Congress is contesting 27 seats, with 10 seats given to the IUML. The Congress is also supporting two Independent candidates, Omanakuttan and Gopakumar Rajan, said to be representing the E.M.S. Padhana Kendram. V.B. Cheriyan's outfit, E.M.S. Padhana Kendram, has a small presence in the industrial township of Kalamassery.

Development issues

"The UDF should take credit for the development of Kalamassery during the past 10 years," said Congress block president P.K. Kutty. However, the LDF contends that the municipality is still lagging behind considerably in every aspect of development. CPI (M) leader and LDF Kalamassery Municipality Election Committee secretary P.K. Kesavan points out that during the UDF rule, Kalamassery had lost many important projects.

The major names in the LDF list are the Opposition Leader of the present council K.B. Verghese, former chairman A.M. Yousef, CPI(M) area committee secretary K.K. Karunakaran, Henny Baby, district vice-president of All India Democratic Women's Association and councillor for the last two terms and Renuka Vijayan, who had been councillor last time.

The CPI(M) has also fielded two women in general seats apart from the seats reserved for women, said Mr. Kesavan.

In the UDF list, Congress mandalam committee president V.R. Thankappan, former chairman T.K. Kutty, former vice-chairman T.S. Abubecker (IUML), I.M. Abdurehman and Gracy Peter, sitting councillor, are the major names. However, both fronts have not yet divulged the names of chairperson candidates so far.

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