Six out of seven Assembly segments are held by the front in Ernakulam

Constituency watch: Kerala

The Ernakulam Lok Sabha constituency, encapsulating within it Kerala’s industrial and commercial hub, has traditionally been a stronghold of the Congress and the United Democratic Front (UDF).

Despite the presence of a sizeable working class population and Ernakulam’s cosmopolitan character, the constituency’s electoral history over the past several decades has given rise to the perception that its electorate is predominantly Latin Catholic. Though the truth lies elsewhere, the battle for the constituency is being fought this time too on this now-familiar narrative.

The UDF has once again fielded Union Minister of State for Food and Consumer Affairs K.V. Thomas. Taking him on is Christy Fernandez, former civil servant, the last major post he had held being Secretary to the former President Pratibha Patil.

LDF strategy

Mr. Fernandez has been fielded in continuation of the at times successful Left Democratic Front (LDF) strategy to checkmate Prof. Thomas, who was victorious in Ernakulam in 1984, 1989, 1991, and 2009, by fielding Independents.

One occasion when the Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] managed to send tremors through the Congress camp was in 2009, when it fielded Sindhu Joy, then a student leader. She was able to bring down Prof. Thomas’s lead down to 11,000.

Among the seven Assembly segments comprising the Lok Sabha constituency, six are represented by UDF legislators, indicating the kind of firm hold that the front has on large swathes of the constituency.

Development plank

Prof. Thomas campaign focus is on the way he has channelised various development projects into the constituency over the past five years.

However, the CPI(M) disputes this, with the contention that its Rajya Sabha member, P. Rajeev, too played a major role in securing the development projects.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is also in the fray in real earnest. The party has fielded its State secretary A.N. Radhakrishnan. In 2004, he had secured 7.1 per cent of the polled votes.

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