It has seen high drama since the Kerala Congress merger

With just a day left for the conclusion of the campaign for the April 13 Assembly elections, political circles have set the focus on the Thodupuzha constituency, stage of a high political drama in the United Democratic Front even before the talks for sharing of seats and the announcement of the candidates.

Thodupuzha is different from other constituencies in Idukki district, not only in geography, as it is not in the high ranges, but also in the political climate after the merger of the Kerala Congress(J), led by P.J. Joseph, now representing the constituency, with the Kerala Congress(M) after exiting from the Left Democratic Front.

The Congress seems to have reconciled itself to the merger after initial opposition, which had led to clashes between its workers and those of the KC(M). But the impact of the merger will be known only on the day of the counting, as Mr. Joseph, who won here last time from the opposite side, is pitted against a person who had been his party colleague prior to the merger.

In comparison with other constituencies in the district, where farmers and estate workers have an upper hand, in Thodupuzha, the employed classes and businessmen too constitute a main segment.

Though the fronts raise development as the major poll plank, the undercurrents resulting from the merger will have an effect in the constituency. Whether it will favour Mr. Joseph or his rival, Joseph Augustine, is the question.

It is more a political fight between two camps, and various factors will have an impact on the outcome. The political developments in the constituency will a have reflection on other constituencies. The reaction of the electorate of Thodupuzha to the political realignment and its likely impact on the political map of the State are anxiously looked upon.

The constituency saw a high-pitched campaign with leaders such as Union Defence Minister A.K. Antony announcing full support for Mr. Joseph.

The political circles are discussing how many votes Mr. Augustine, an Independent candidate supported by the Left front, will poll. The personal clout of the candidates and the political realignment and undercurrents, including communal polarisation, are also topics of discussion.

Both the candidates concentrate mainly on personal interactions, and the elements such as their popularity and the influence of the KC(M) will be the deciding factors. Mr. Augustine may get dissident votes from the Congress-led front, as there will be at least some who will not vote for the traditional opponent now in their camp.

The Bharatiya Janata Party has a support base in the constituency, as was evident from the high percentage of votes it polled in the local bodies elections and the seats it won in the lone Thodupuzha municipality. The party has fielded its State vice-president, P.M. Velayudhan.