The Chalakkudy Lok Sabha constituency is witnessing a fierce battle this time between senior Congress leader P.C. Chacko and film actor Innocent, whom the Left Democratic Front (LDF) has fielded as an Independent.
Mr. Chacko switched over to this constituency, spread in Thrissur and Ernakulam districts, after forcing sitting MP and his party colleague K.P. Dhanapalan to move to Thrissur. Mr. Chacko had reportedly earned the wrath of a section of Congress workers in Thrissur over inner-party issues.
Mr. Chacko was confident of an easy walkover from Chalakkudy because of the upper hand enjoyed by the United Democratic Front (UDF) in the constituency, formed in 2008 replacing Mukundapuram.
Mr. Dhanapalan had won with a comfortable margin of 71,679 votes in 2009.
However, the contest has become somewhat even with Mr. Innocent hitting the fray.
The LDF could win here only once, when a large number of Congress workers, upset with the style of functioning of the late party veteran K. Karunakaran, voted against his daughter Padmaja Venugopal.
Fielding posers of high political significance, Mr. Innocent has already proved that it will not be that easy for Mr. Chacko.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate B. Goplakarishnan and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidate K.M. Noorudhin are in the fray along with former Congress leader Jayson Panikulangara, who has entered the electoral race as a representative of the victims of pollution caused by Nitta Gelatin Limited at Kathikudam. Mr. Jayson severed his 35-year-long association with the Congress in protest against the party’s failure to prevent pollution of Chalakkudy river by the factory.
People who are raged against the government move to establish a hydel power project blocking the flow of water into the Athirapilly waterfalls are also supporting Mr. Jayson.
The AAP candidate has wide contacts as a pain and palliative care worker. The BJP candidate is associated with the anti-toll protest at Paliyekkara on NH 47.
Chalakkudy is one of the few constituencies where both the K. Kasturirangan committee report on conservation of Western Ghats and the Coastal Regulations Zone have emerged as key electoral issues.
While at Malakkapara, a plantation country bordering Valparai in Tamil Nadu, the intrusion of wild elephants into human settlements constitutes the key electoral issue, coastal Kaippamangalam has fishermen’s grievances.
Mr. Chacko has already created a controversy with his open admission that the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) might find it difficult to return to power.
The recent murder of a youth on mistaken identity, allegedly by CPI(M) workers, at Perinjanam, near Kaippamangalam, has put the LDF on the defensive.