K.S. Sudhi

Congress candidate Dominic Presentation has good clout here

Kochi: Winning the Palluruthy seat has been a long-cherished dream of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M).

The party had this and the Mattancherry seats in mind when the annual budget of the city corporation, ruled by the Left Democratic Front headed by it, was prepared. Presenting the budget, the Deputy Mayor announced that the corporation council would lay emphasis on the development of west Kochi. These constituencies fall in the area.

The party did hard bargaining for the seat at Left Front meetings and announcement of the candidate's name was delayed till the last minute, as the Nationalist Congress Party also staked claim for Palluruthy.

Even before the finalisation of the candidate, the CPI(M) candidate, C.M. Dinesh Mani, a former Mayor, had started campaigning in the constituency. At a meeting held before any name had been finalised, Mr. Mani urged voters in the constituency to elect the Left Front candidate, though it was not know who that would be.

The CPI(M) set into motion its organisational machinery in the constituency, ignoring the protests of the NCP, which found expression in the form of some namesakes of Mr. Mani announcing their decision to contest the election. The NCP leaders had also protested against what they called the bulldozing action of the CPI(M).

Now, it is a prestigious battle for the CPI(M) and Mr. Mani, as he is pitted against Minister for Fisheries and Sports Dominic Presentation, who has a formidable track-record in the constituency.

As the rumblings in the LDF took some time to settle down, the United Democratic Front went ahead with its campaign, as there were no serious claimants in it to the seat being represented by Mr. Presentation now.

The constituency has elected candidates from the rival fronts for three consecutive terms each. T.P. Peethambaran of the Congress(S) had represented it for three terms beginning in 1980, 1982 and 1987. Mr. Presentation ended this streak of Mr. Peethambaran in 1991 by winning the seat for the Congress after a gap of more than three decades.

Mr. Presentation, like his predecessor, also created a record by winning the constituency for three consecutive terms.

Now the question is whether the history of ending the reign of hat-trick winners repeat in the constituency?

The Left Front has identified drinking water crisis and absence of sufficient road facilities in the constituency as the most effective issues to upset the ruling front's hope of retaining the seat. While Mr. Mani alleges that Mr. Presentation has failed to address the issue, Mr. Presentation accuses the previous city corporation administration, headed by his rival, of not doing anything to solve the problems.