Kerala Assembly elections 2021: Constituency Watch

In Ernakulam, a test of political theories

When it comes to the Assembly polls, Ernakulam has not experimented much with its choice.

Since 1957, when the first election to the State Assembly was held, the Left could send its representative from here only twice. First, it was literary critic M.K. Sanoo, who contested as Left Democratic Front-backed Independent in 1987. Eleven years later, journalist-lawyer Sebastian Paul spread cheer in the Left camp by winning the seat in 1998. On both the occasions, the dissidents in the Congress camp aided the Left front victory.

Ernakulam is one Assembly seat where a candidate from the Latin Catholic community is seen preferred over others by both the LDF and the United Democratic Front (UDF). It is not because Latin Catholics are the dominating community in terms of numbers, but Ernakulam is a constituency in the State where they are present in sizeable numbers and hence they can be given due representation, according to some senior politicians.

Incidentally, it was in the 2019 Assembly by-election that the LDF came anywhere close to a win in the constituency, when its candidate Manu Roy bowed out to T.J. Vinod, former Deputy Mayor of Kochi Corporation. Mr. Roy could bring down the margin of the Congress candidate to just 3,673 votes from the earlier whopping margin of 21,989 secured by Hibi Eden.

While the detractors of Mr. Vinod and the Left camp find hope in the nearly one-sixth fall in the margin of the Congress candidate, the supporters of Mr. Vinod are quick to point out the steep drop in polling and its reflection in the poll outcome. On polling day, it had rained heavily. Roads resembled canals, and rainwater stayed on the roads for hours together, making the pathways non-motorable. Power outages and flooding had resulted in the suspension of polling in a few booths in the city. A large number of voters chose to stay indoors rather than getting drenched to take part in the poll process.

Only 57.89% exercised their franchise, which was significantly lower than the 71.60% of 2016 Assembly polls and the 73.29% of the Lok Sabha elections held in 2019.

While the Congress camp tried to find solace in the poor voter turnout for the all-time low margin of its candidate, the Left camp saw it as an indication of erosion in the traditional Congress votes. These theories will be put to test on April 6, when the State goes to polls.

As the Congress is likely to field its sitting MLA Mr. Vinod once again, it will be his personal responsibility to prove that the party citadel remains impenetrable. The 2021 election may become a repeat show of the 2019 polls, if the LDF decides to give Mr. Roy one more chance to prove his worth.

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Printable version | Apr 20, 2021 9:53:29 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/kerala-assembly/in-ernakulam-a-test-of-political-theories/article34023642.ece

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