Rebels are nothing new in local body elections, but this time around, the rebel story in Alappuzha district just got bigger with the chairman of the Chengannur Municipality himself turning a rebel.
Rajan Kannattu, who was twice the municipal chairman of Chengannur and resigned a day before the election notification came last month, is the State General Secretary of the Kerala Congress (M), a post that remained with him when the Kerala Congress Joseph faction merged with K.M. Mani’s faction. Twice elected with local record margins from the Railway Station ward, Mr. Kannattu is contesting from the Bethel ward of the municipality as an independent this time.
The political dispensations and equations in the Chengannur municipal council have been the prime example of intra-party and inter-alliance rebellions with Mr. Kannattu facing no-confidence motions on two occasions in the recent past.
Mr. Kannattu, who first became the chairman in the previous term for two and a half years, again was elected chairman in the latter half of the current term, both when the KC (J) was an LDF constituent.
However, after the KC (J) merged with the KC (M), the municipality technically went to the UDF. However, it was Congress, along with a section of the KC (M), the Communist Party of India (CPI) and the Janadhipathya Samrakshana Samithi (JSS), that led both the no-confidence motions against Mr. Kannattu. On both occasions, he survived with the help of the Communist Party of India (Marxist).
Mr. Kannattu, who says he still is in good terms with the UDF leadership and his party leaders K.M. Mani and P.J. Joseph, alleges that the local leadership of the KC (M) and a section of the Congress local leadership plotted against him. Out of the seven seats that the KC (M) was allotted in the municipality this time, not a single seat was given to those who belonged to the KC (J), which is why he has turned a rebel, he told The Hindu.
In the Alappuzha municipality, while the LDF has been able to curb the rebel menace, the UDF has its hands full. The Congress had shared six seats with JSS, three of which have rebels now, one each from the Congress, the Communist Marxist Party (CMP) and the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML). The KC (M) has its candidates rebelling against UDF candidates in at least four seats of the municipality. There are JSS rebels in about 14 grama panchayat seats while the Cheruthana division among the block panchayats too as a JSS rebel.