Special Correspondent

First phase of polls to be held today

Campaign has been on factional lines

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Kerala Students Union (KSU) is set to hold its first organisational elections in 18 years, with the first phase covering the northern region starting off on Monday. The election process has also thrown up the contours of factional regrouping in the party and a proxy fight by leaders at the helm of affairs — Ramesh Chennithala and Oommen Chandy.

The format of the elections is different this time, with more than 5,500 delegates selected by college units directly electing the State and district presidents and the National committee members. In order to ensure a fair representation, the vice-president and three general secretaries will be chosen depending on the number of votes each candidats gets.

The same procedure will be followed in the case of the election of the district president and office-bearers and National committee delegates.

The KSU State committee will have eight members, with three being reserved for two female candidates and one person from the Scheduled Caste community.

The membership drive and campaigning started two months ago. The first phase will be held on Monday in Kannur, covering Kasaragod and Kannur districts, and Malappuram, covering Wayanad, Kozhikode and Malappuram districts. The second phase will be held on December 1 covering Palakkad, Thrissur, Ernakulam, Idukki, Kottayam and Alappuzha districts.

The third phase of the elections in Kollam, Pathanamthitta and Thiruvananthapuram will be held on December 2.

Factional campaign

The election campaign has been on factional lines, with the former ‘I’ and ‘A’ groups that had been scattered in the last few years coalescing to gain control over the student organisation.

The new ‘I’ coordination committee has succeeded in bringing around all the former ‘I’ group members, including those who belonged to the Third Group headed by Mr. Chennithala under one banner.

According to information available, there are 17 nominees for the State committee elections, with the ‘I’ coordination committee fielding five candidates and the ‘A’ group putting up four candidates. The fourth group has fielded three candidates and one nominee goes as a representative of Padmaja Venugopal. The presence of two Mohammed Shafis in the nominee lists has evoked curiosity because of their near identical name to Shafi Parambil, who is ‘A’ group nominee for the State president’s post.

Sources said the ‘A’ group would have to get the support of the fourth group, owing allegiance to Vayalar Ravi, to tilt the balance in its favour in some of the districts. But the ‘I’ coordination committee, if it is able to stand united, can win the sweepstakes, putting pressure on the Leader of the Opposition. Besides, there are independent nominees who could tilt the election results in favour of either of the faction.

The National Students Union (NSU) leadership does not see anything wrong in factional content in the election campaign.

NSU president Hybee Eaden said there was nothing wrong in contesting the election as a panel as it was only part of a healthy and robust election process.