Q & A: Lok Sabha Election 2019

‘Aim is to increase margin of victory,’ says Jose K. Mani

‘A fight against communal, totalitarian governments’

For Jose K. Mani, a lot is at stake as the State goes to the polls on April 23. Having taken over the reigns of the Kerala Congress (M) from party chairman K.M. Mani early this year, the young scion battled stiff opposition within the party and the UDF before reaching this far. Riding on an anti-incumbency wave against the BJP at the Centre and the LDF at the State and coupled with the momentum set by the candidature of Congress president Rahul Gandhi, the UDF this time is eyeing a landslide victory in Kerala, he says.

How far will the entry of Rahul Gandhi into the State’s pollscape turn the momentum in favour of the UDF this time?

The momentum has already been in favour of us, while the move by Rahul Gandhi to contest from Wayanad is a virtue. For, this is the first time that we are having a prime ministerial candidate contesting the elections from Kerala. This will help us turn the neutral votes to our advantage. This is indeed a historical moment.

What are the key poll planks of the Kerala Congress (M)?

In the Kottayam constituency, we are seeking a mandate to carry forward the momentum of development that steered the constituency to progress over the past eight years. Second is the capability of our candidate Thomas Chazhikkadan as an honest campaigner. Last, the election this time is also perceived as a fight against the communal and totalitarian governments both at the Centre and in the State.

Party chairman K.M. Mani is staying away from the heat and dust of electioneering. How far will this affect the prospects of your party?

He has just taken a short break due to some health issues but has been constantly monitoring and guiding the election campaign. Also, he is in constant touch with all the key leaders of the KC(M) and the UDF.

The NDA too has fielded a Kerala Congress leader in Kottayam. But, will the Sabarimala issue affect the outcome of the election in the constituency?

The NDA candidate here is just another faithful follower of a party which has unleashed violence across the country in the name of religion. On the Sabarimala issue, the UDF stood for the protection of devotees’ interest.

The selection of candidate has caused some heart-burning with party working chairman P.J. Joseph coming out in the open against the decision to field Thomas Chazhikkadan. How will it impact the electoral prospects?

Well, that is a closed chapter and we have come a long way since then. Despite a delayed beginning, we could catch up with the rivals in the first week itself. The presence of the party working chairman in the election conventions has boosted the morale of party workers. Considering that Kottayam is traditionally a UDF bastion, our objective is to maximise the margin of win this time.

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Printable version | Jun 6, 2020 7:28:27 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/lok-sabha-2019/aim-is-to-increase-margin-of-victory-says-jose-k-mani/article26741945.ece

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