G. Krishnakumar

The LDF is trying to end his winning streak

KOCHI: The Angamaly constituency is known for being generous to both the fronts in the Assembly elections held so far.

The United Democratic Front (UDF) candidate P.J. Joy is pitted against Jose Thettayil of the Left Democratic Front (LDF) in these elections. Both the fronts are employing their full prowess to woo voters. A foray into the constituency history shows that the Left had won the seat four terms in a row from 1967. A.P. Kurian of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) represented it following the elections held in 1967, 1970, 1977 and 1980.

M.V. Mani of the Kerala Congress(M) broke Mr. Kurian's winning streak. Mr. Mani defeated Mr. Kurian by a margin of 2,377 votes in 1982. He retained the seat in the elections held in 1987 by defeating CPI(M)'s M.C. Josephine by 5,500 votes.

Mr. Joy, now representing the constituency, entered the fray in 1991 as the UDF candidate. He defeated Mr. Mani in the elections held that year and in 1996. Mr. Joy faced a tough battle in 1996, and could garner a majority of only 546 votes. He won a hat-trick in 2001 after defeating the Left Front-backed Independent candidate, V.J. Papoo, by a margin of 18,177 votes.

Mr. Joy is now highlighting the development works initiated in the constituency, such as construction of a bypass adjacent to the National Highway, tourism projects connecting rural and plantation sectors, three self-financing engineering colleges and drinking water projects, during his three terms. He had also won `hajarpathi' award for full attendance in the State Assembly during the previous term.

The Left Front camp alleges that the MLA had failed to bring any change in the constituency during the last 15 years. Nothing was done towards fulfilling a longstanding demand of converting Angamaly into a taluk. The place has not been included under the Metro Railway project despite it being considered an entry point to Kochi city. Development of the railway and bus stations is hanging fire. Bamboo workers in the constituency are in a crisis following the failure of the Government in providing wages in time, the Front leaders say.

Fighting his debut electoral battle, Mr. Thettayil says that the UDF candidate has failed in ensuring overall development of the constituency. A former Chairman of the Angamaly municipality, Mr. Thettayil is member of the State working committee and national council of the Janata Dal(S). He has been active in the film society movement in the State for the last several years.

Poll managers of the LDF are confident of improving on the coalition's performance in the local bodies elections held recently. In the elections held to 27 wards, the LDF, with the support of the Democratic Indira Congress-Karunakaran (DIC-K), had won 13 seats. The UDF won 13 seats, while one seat was bagged by an Independent. The ruling coalition is trying hard to contain increasing opposition among the DIC(K) workers against Mr. Joy's candidature. Both the fronts are also eyeing on the support of Catholic voters, who form a major portion of the electorate.