The poll heat is rising in Alappuzha with the by-poll, necessitated by the elevation of K.C. Venugopal to the Lok Sabha, to be held on November 7. Though the candidates are yet to be announced officially, marathon meetings to zero down on the suitable person are on in offices of every political party here.
While the Congress is an upbeat mood, obviously boosted by the drubbing it handed over to its rivals in the recent Parliament polls, the Left parties have made it clear that they will leave no stone unturned to salvage lost pride. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), though it has not been able to make an impact in previous elections, too is involved in hectic discussions to finalize a candidate.
Interestingly, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), which had sided with the LDF in the Parliament elections, too is in the fray for the Assembly this time around.
The CPI had its district executive and council meeting here on Thursday in the presence of CPI State Secretary Veliyam Bhargavan. Mr. Bhargavan, talking to reporters, termed reports on the CPI (M) taking over the seat as mere media creation. There was no such demand from the CPI (M) and previous failures were no criteria to hand over a seat, he said. The council, according to party sources, has narrowed down the candidate list to two, both of whom are youngsters.
The Congress, according to party sources, is planning to announce its candidate by Saturday or Monday. The names of DCC president A.A. Shukoor and Congress Vichar Vibagh chairman Nedumudi Harikumar are making the rounds while Mahila Congress State president Shanimol Usman too could be considered, the sources said. Leader of Opposition Oommen Chandy and KPCC president Ramesh Chennithala are holding discussions with the district leadership, including one on Thursday, on the candidate selection.
Poll history in the constituency has been a mixed bag, with the CPI winning six times, the Congress, five times, and the now-defunct National Democratic Party winning twice out of the total 13 elections witnessed here. CPI strongman, the late T.V. Thomas, and current Congress parliamentarian, K.C. Venugopal, have represented Alappuzha the most in the State Assembly after winning thrice each from here.
Mr. Venugopal was the representative on three consecutive occasions from 1996. He had defeated CPI candidates, including a CPI Independent (Abdul Raheem, 2001), on all three occasions.
The Alappuzha constituency, where polling will be held as per the constituency pattern prior to the delimitation exercise, comprises of the 50 wards of the Alappuzha Municipality. The newly drawn contours had shunted Wards No. 20-44 to the neighbouring Ambalapuzha constituency.