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Rebel menace may cost UDF dear

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COSTLY REBELLION: The rebel candidates of the UDF, (from left) Sam Eapen (Thiruvalla), K.K. Nair (Pathanamthitta) and K.R. Rajappan (Aranmula), seeking votes in their respective constituencies.
COSTLY REBELLION: The rebel candidates of the UDF, (from left) Sam Eapen (Thiruvalla), K.K. Nair (Pathanamthitta) and K.R. Rajappan (Aranmula), seeking votes in their respective constituencies.

Radhakrishnan Kuttoor

KPCC decision to support DIC(K) candidate has badly hurt the Antony-Chandy loyalists' camp

PATHANAMTHITTA: The rebel menace in the United Democratic Front (UDF) over the alleged partisan seat allocation process in the district is likely to cost dearly to the ruling coalition in the Assembly polls.

District Congress Committee president K. Sivadasan Nair, UDF district chairman Victor T. Thomas of the Kerala Congress(M) and former Congress MLA and Democratic Indira Congress(Karunakaran) candidate Malethu Saraladevi are facing stiff challenge from rebels in the constituencies of Pathanamthitta, Thiruvalla and Aranmula respec tively. Pathanamthitta sitting MLA K.K. Nair, who has been representing the constituency for the past three decades, is contesting as an independent this time when the Congress declined the ticket to him. However, with confidence in his traditional vote bank, Mr. Nair continued his usual style of poll campaign without any hype in his home constituency.

One can perceive the `K.K. Nair Effect' in the constituency, reading between the lines of Mr. Nair's comments, "I have already affixed my posters on the walls of the voter psyche in Pathanamthitta and hence you may not see much multi-colour posters announcing my candidature in the nook and cranny of the Assembly segment.''

Aranmula

Similarly, the DCC president, who had launched a well-oiled UDF election machinery in his home constituency of Aranmula with the knowledge of the KPCC leadership much before the formal announcement of the poll schedule by the Election Commission, too was denied the ticket for a second time following the last-minute electoral understanding reached between the Congress and the DIC(K).

The Alappuzha DCC member K.R. Rajappan, who is also the Alappuzha district panchayat member, was heading the abruptly ceased poll campaign of Mr. Sivadasan Nair in Aranmula when the latter was denied the ticket. However, the Congress has given the ticket to the DCC president for Pathanamthitta, disregarding the poll campaign launched by the sitting Congress MLA there when the former threatened to contest as an independent in Aranmula.

The KPCC decision to support the DIC(K) candidate has badly hurt the Antony-Chandy loyalists' camp in Aranmula and they have fielded Mr. Rajappan as an independent against the official candidate, Ms. Saraladevi, leaving the Congress-DIC(K) honeymoon a non-starter in the constituency.

A majority of the Congress leaders in the constituency are actively campaigning for the rebel, putting the party leadership in total confusion.

Mr. Rajappan's campaign is picking up day by day, posing a headache to the DIC(K) as well as LDF candidate K.C. Rajagopalan of the CPI(M) in Aranmula.

Thiruvalla

Kerala Congress(M) chief K.M. Mani could not foresee such a vehement backlash from his own party unit when he had decided to field his confidant Victor T. Thomas, former Kozhencherry panchayat president, in Thiruvalla, discarding local protests. The KC(M) has also underestimated the strong political clout and goodwill enjoyed by rebel candidate Sam Eapen who was an aide of the late Mammen Mathai in the Upper Kuttanad reaches of the constituency which form the backbone of the party's political base in Central Travancore.

Mr. Eapen, known for his moderate, gentlemanly behaviour, was also selected the best panchayat president in the State a year ago.

Political undercurrents in the constituency is another major factor which may prove beneficial to the rebel candidate in Thiruvalla. It is no secret that both the Congress and the CPI(M) have been longing to take the Thiruvalla seat from their respective coalition partners, KC(M) and Janata Dal(S).

The subtle indifference among a section of the CPI(M) camp towards JD(S) candidate Mathew T. Thomas and the casual approach of the local Congress camp towards the KC(M) candidate amply hint at the undercurrents and surprises in store for both the LDF and the UDF in Thiruvalla.

Any prediction of the poll outcome in the three constituencies afflicted by rebel menace becomes difficult when the rebels are ahead of their rivals, at least on the campaign front, in the last lap of the campaigning.

Many UDF sympathisers are blaming the respective leadership for "spoiling the winning chances of the UDF in its traditional strongholds.''

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