Kerala Assembly elections 2021: Constituency Watch

Catapulted to the spotlight by a candidate

Piravom, the sleepy Assembly constituency straddling Ernakulam and Kottayam districts, was barely a blip on the electoral radar till the Left Democratic Front (LDF) announced its candidate. The announcement literally shook up things and pitchforked the constituency into prime time news almost overnight.

While the LDF’s decision to allocate the seat to its ally Kerala Congress (M) was expected, it was the choice of candidate that surprised even the rival fronts. The decision to field Sindhumol Jacob, the CPI(M)-backed block panchayat member from Uzhavoor, did not go down well with the local CPI(M) rank and file, not to mention the outburst of KC(M) councillor and long-time seat aspirant Gils Periappuram who raised the spectre of ‘payment seat’ against party chairperson Jose K. Mani. Having resigned from the party, Mr. Periappuram has since campaigned against KC(M) candidates in Kottayam.

To make matters worse, news spread that Ms. Jacob who was a CPI(M) branch committee member from Uzhavoor was ousted from the party to make way for her contest as the KC(M) candidate. Later, party district secretary V.N. Vasavan clarified that she was no longer a member and hence there was no need for an ouster.

Eyeing a hat-trick

The constituency has been a pocket borough of the Kerala Congress (Jacob) with the late T.M. Jacob representing it five times. The incumbent is his son Anoop Jacob, now a two-time MLA. The United Democratic Front camp remains confident of securing a hat-trick of victories for Mr. Jacob by exploiting the churning within the LDF over the candidate selection. The prognosis being that the grass-roots workers of the CPI(M), who even otherwise were reluctant to campaign for KC(M) having opposed the party all these decades, have been further antagonised by the ‘imported’ candidate.

The CPI(M) camp, however, shoots down this argument claiming that its cadres are well regimented to set aside their predilections in the face of the party decision. It is further pointed out that the decision to field the candidate, a Jacobite married to a Knanaya Catholic, was not reckless, but a shrewd and tactical one against the backdrop of the prevailing feud between the Jacobite and Orthodox factions of the Malankara Church, which remains a critical electoral issue in the constituency.

BJP’s hope

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has taken back the constituency from its ally, the Bharath Dharma Jana Sena (BDJS), and fielded M. Ashish, a two-time panchayat member. The party hopes to improve on the vote share of the BDJS candidate in the last election by taking advantage of the national leadership’s mediatory role in the Church feud. It expects its Nair candidate to receive the support of both the Jacobite and Orthodox factions. Since both the LDF and UDF candidates are Jacobites, the BJP calculates that the Orthodox faction will not vote for them and that the Jacobite votes will get split.

The constituency is a fairly large one constituting of Piravom and Koothattukulam municipalities and parts of Tripunithura municipality and nine grama panchayats.

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Printable version | May 9, 2021 9:47:30 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/kerala-assembly/catapulted-to-the-spotlight-by-a-candidate/article34117920.ece

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