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An election marked by high drama

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George Jacob

KOTTAYAM: It's an election marked by unprecedented high drama, distrust, blatant invocation of communalism and instances of camaraderie beyond comprehensibility. The elections also pushed the district into media focus on more than one occasion, often for the wrong reasons.

The star fight is Puthupally, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy's home constituency. While the high drama that marked the run-up to the elections gave Sindhu Joy an unprecedented advantage, it also stirred Mr. Chandy's supporters from their lethargy giving both the campaigns an unprecedented vitality.

The CPI(M) and the Congress are once again directly in fight at Kottayam where V. N. Vasavan is taking Ajay Tharayil. Mr. Vasavan had an early lead in the campaign and succeeded in eliciting support from the SNDP Yogam, which was crucial in the constituency. However, Mr. Tharayil's campaign which lagged behind in the initial stages has gained momentum during the past few days, thanks to the momentous work being done by Union Minister Vayalar Ravi and sitting MLA Mercy Ravi.

At Ettumanur, the CPI(M) has locked horns with the Kerala Congress (Mani). It appears that this is one constituency where possibilities of politics have been pushed to limit, bringing in communalism to take the lead in the arena. Sitting MLA Thomas Chazhikkadan (KC-M) has taken seat with massive majority in 2001. However, this time the opponent is K.S. Krishnankutty Nair (CPI-M). The success in giving a communal colour to the elections has not only created polarisation on both the sides, but also raised the stakes of the BJP in the constituency. Another constituency contested by the CPI(M) is Changanassery where the DYFI leader A.V. Russal is facing KC-M chairman C.F.Thomas who had been representing the segment from 1980.

In Kaduthuruthy, Kerala Congress factions are in the fray. While sitting MLA Stephen George (KC-M) who had initial hiccups in his campaign and had to content with disaffection from a section of the votes from his own community, his opponent and former MLA Mons Joseph's camp appears to be apprehensive of strong undercurrents that may surface at the crucial moment. At Vazhoor, the KC(M) and the CPI are in the fray. While KC-M's Jayaraj is banking on the strong roots he had in the working class sector. This is one constituency where the votes of the BJP is going to be crucial. At Vaikom, the LDF consists of the CPI and the CPI(M) and as long as the dynamics worked, the constituency had remained with them. On the UDF front, Vaikom is one segment where the DIC(K) is crucial. K. Ajith of the CPI and V.P. Sajeendran of the Congress are the main contenders.

The three constituencies of Kanjirapally, Pala and Poonjar give an entirely different picture. These three segments form part of the Moovattupuzha Assembly segment and the ripple effects of the unprecedented results of 2004 Parliament elections when a BJP-supported PC Thomas took the seat, pushing the Left candidate P.M. Ismael to the second position, still reverberates here in varying degrees.

While in Pala, the Congress-S candidate Mani C. Kappan is trying his best to provide an alternative to K.M. Mani. How far he has succeeded in taking his message to the people remains to be seen. At Poonjar, the fight is stiff. While T.V. Abraham (KC-M) believes he has made inroads into his opponents' vote bank, P.C. George (KC-S) is banking on the `VS Effect.'

At Kanjirappally, the Congress has fielded KPCC general secretary Joseph Vazhackan while the LDF has deputed former IAS officer Alphons Kannamthanam as an independent. Mr. Kannamthanam finds no reason to believe that the LDF base votes would disintegrate. However, the star fighter here is former KC-J district chief Georgekutty Augusthy.

Augusthy is banking on the large number of SC/ST votes, support from his former colleagues, good relations with the church and also his friends during 2004 Parliament elections. The roles of independent candidate K.P. Shoukat and the sitting MLA, George Mathew may also prove crucial.

Whatever be the outcome, the results of the triangular fight at Kanjirappally are going to have their effect in the politics of Central Kerala in the coming elections.

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