Uncertainty grips political battle in Kottayam

Elections in Kottayam have traditionally revolved around natural rubber. Alongside, issues like the Manipur violence and attacks on Christians in North India, and the issues pertaining protection of Hindu faith, too, have come up to dominate the political discourse

Published - April 02, 2024 12:01 am IST - KOTTAYAM

It’s not just the excitement over a direct battle between the Kerala Congress factions or the chaotic political atmosphere triggered by a crisis in the natural rubber sector that is to blame for the uncertainty gripping Kottayam this time.

Instead, it’s the realization that the election’s outcome may serve as a culmination of the numerous twists and turns witnessed in the region’s political landscape since the previous parliamentary election.

The contest for the central Travancore seat commenced early, with rival Kerala Congress factions announcing their candidates in the first half of February. The Kerala Congress (M), emboldened by the support of the organizationally-strong Left Democratic Front alliance, hopes for an encore of 2019 and has fielded the incumbent MP, Thomas Chazhikadan.

The rival faction, on the other hand, looks to cut through the disenchantment of different sections towards the KC(M) as well as the Left Democratic Front government and has brought in K. Francis George, son of the former Kerala Congress leader K.M. George.

The National Democratic Alliance’s unusual and delayed choice to field Tushar Vellappally, president of the Bharat Dharma Jana Sena, has drawn the battle lines further.

Elections in Kottayam have traditionally revolved around natural rubber, or rather the crisis that has engulfed the sector. The scene appears slightly different this time with domestic prices looking up in line with a rise in international prices. The contesting fronts, however, have chosen to stick to the good old tradition, aligning their respective campaigns around the theme.

Alongside, issues like the Manipur violence and attacks on Christians in North India, and the issues pertaining to minority appeasement and protection of Hindu faith, too, have come up to dominate the political discourse.

Starting from C.P. Mathew in 1951, the Congress or its allies has won about 10 times from here, including the previous three occasions. The Left, however, could also upset the electoral apple cart in this ‘conservative constituency’ and out-poll the UDF on six occasions.

Now, as the campaign heats up, outstripping the summer heat in Kottayam, the question being asked is whether the Left Democratic Front, which has witnessed a sharp spike in ground support here since the previous local body polls, will be able to expand its winning streak to the Lok Sabha. It hopes to cut through the cracks of intra-coalition differences within the UDF to make a swing large enough for a sound win.

In 2019, Thomas Chazhikadan, who contested as the UDF candidate, accounted for about 46.25 percent of votes polled, against the 34.58 percent for LDF and 17.04 percent by the NDA. While the arithmetic is simple and potentially devastating, the NDA expects the fight this time to be closer than seemed likely before the rollout of a set of welfare measures for the rubber growers by the union government.

The stance of the Catholic Church, the feud between the Orthodox and Jacobite factions, and the stance of the Nair Service Society, which has always stood in support of the faithful, will have a significant impact on the final outcome of the election. The sizeable presence of the Knanaya Christians and the SNDP Yogam members may also split the votes among the dominant candidates.

The Kottayam Lok Sabha constituency comprises seven assembly segments: Piravom, Kaduthuruthy, Vaikom, Ettumanur, Pala, Kottayam, and Puthuppally. It has a total electorate of 15.69 lakh, including 8.07 lakh female voters

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.