Kerala Assembly elections 2021: Constituency Watch

A UDF bastion that went the LDF way last time

When the Left Democratic Front (LDF) candidate K.J. Maxi won from the Kochi constituency in the last Assembly election, it was an aberration of sorts.

For, the constituency in its earlier avatar as Mattancherry and then as Kochi from the 2011 Assembly election following the delimitation exercise, has always been a United Democratic Front (UDF) bastion.

Before Mr. Maxi’s victory, the LDF was able to breach it only in 1996 when M.A. Thomas emerged victorious as an LDF-backed Independent. But even Mr. Maxi’s victory was by a slender margin of 1,086 votes despite the rumblings within the Congress against the candidature of Dominic Presentation. That the Congress rebel candidate M.J. Leenus and even NOTA (None Of The Above) polled 7,588 votes and 1,002 votes respectively put the result in perspective.

The general election held three years later in 2019 witnessed UDF dominance being restored when Congress candidate from the Ernakulam Parliamentary constituency Hibi Eden notched up an impressive lead of 29,313 against his LDF rival P. Rajeev in areas within Kochi Assembly constituency.

The local body polls held last year witnessed a swing of sorts towards the LDF, which won nine out of 20 Corporation divisions within the Kochi Assembly constituency while the UDF was reduced to four with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Independents bagging two and four seats respectively. The LDF is also in power at Kumbalanghi and Chellanam panchayats, which also form part of the constituency.

While the LDF has announced the candidature of the incumbent Mr. Maxi, former mayor Tony Chammany seems the frontrunner for UDF candidacy though Mr. Presenation’s name is also doing the rounds. Till before the delimitation, the constituency was held by the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML). But, in the first Assembly election in 2011 after the formation of Kochi constituency, the IUML swapped the constituency with the Congress and the incumbent MLA V.K. Ibrahim Kunju moved to Kalamasserry Assembly constituency.

In the maiden election to the newly formed constituency, Mr. Presentation registered an impressive victory against LDF candidate M.C. Josephine by 16,863 votes separated by a vote share margin of 15.63%. In comparison, Mr. Maxi’s victory in 2016 against Mr. Presentation was by a mere 0.88%.

Since the formation of the Kochi constituency, both fronts have religiously fielded candidates from the Latin Catholic community and that communal equation is unlikely to change this time too as both vie for the backing of the church.

V4 People, the reloaded version of V4 Kochi that appeared on the political horizon during the last local body polls, has thrown its hat into the ring by fielding its topmost leader Nipun Cherian from the constituency. The party had failed to create much of an impact in 18 of the 20 divisions where it contested in the local body polls, emerging second and third in two divisions alone.

Twenty20 is also planning to contest in the constituency, backed by an impressive show in Chellanam panchayat where it bagged eight wards. The BJP, though having won two Corporation divisions, remains a marginal player with its vote share remaining more or less static. The BJP vote share had dropped from 15,212 in the 2016 Assembly poll to 14,747 in the 2019 Lok Sabha election despite the presence of a formidable candidate like Alphons Kannanthanam.

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Printable version | May 18, 2021 7:42:23 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/kerala-assembly/a-udf-bastion-that-went-the-ldf-way-last-time/article34009734.ece

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