Thrikkakara byelection | No-holds-barred campaign ends today

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan arrives at the election convention of LDF candidate Dr. Jo Joseph in Thrikkakara

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan arrives at the election convention of LDF candidate Dr. Jo Joseph in Thrikkakara | Photo Credit: The Hindu

Never has a byelection gained as much public attention in recent times as witnessed in the high-voltage campaign in the Thrikkakara Assembly constituency. All of it ends today ahead of the polling on May 31.

The Left and the United fronts left no stone unturned in their electioneering as it emerged as a battle of prestige between Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Leader of the Opposition V. D. Satheesan. They led an unprecedented grassroots-level campaign over three weeks backed by an array of ministers, MLAs and political bigwigs knocking on the doors of voters across the constituency.

Allegations and alliances

Though the Left started on the poll plank of development and criticised the Congress for opposing the SilverLine rail project, the campaign gradually veered towards what the front could offer the constituency. The United front cashed in on the government’s decision to replace stone-laying as part of the social impact assessment for the mega project with geo-tagging method and highlighted it as their political victory.

A row over the alleged role played by the Syro-Malabar Church in the selection of the Left candidate did not last long. While the CPI(M) blamed the Congress for maligning the Church, the Congress held the Left for using the Church for political reasons.

Despite its earlier differences with the Twenty20 and Aam Aadmi Party, the leaders belonging to both the CPI(M) and the Congress went all the way out to seek its support after the new political alliance, which is not contesting the byelection, decided not to support any front.


There was no dearth of controversies as the campaign managers pulled out everything in their armour to keep the excitement to a fever pitch. Mr. Vijayan's statement that the byelection following the death of Congress leader P. T. Thomas was a blessing, and Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president K. Sudhakaran's 'unleashed dog' remark against the Chief Minister provided fresh ammunition to both the fronts.

A petition by the survivor in the highly controversial actor attack case, accusing the government of backtracking from its constitutional and legal commitment of conducting a free and fair investigation, pushed the CPI(M) on to the back foot even as the Congress used it as a political weapon in the last lap. However, her statement to the media vouching full faith in the government a day later salvaged the situation for the Left.

The last in the string of controversies was the arrest of two persons said to be affiliated to the Congress on charges of circulating a fake video portraying the Left candidate in poor light.

BJP’s entry

The Bharatiya Janata Party, which is hoping to improve its vote share in Thrikkakara, contributed to the political potboiler by opening its campaign asking why the Vamana temple wasn’t within the constituency. It also sought to interpret the arrest of former legislator P. C. George in a case of hate speech as minority appeasement by the government.

All three fronts fielded heavyweights even for household visits and booth-level campaigns. On the penultimate day, the Congress brought MLA Jignesh Mevani while the BJP fielded Suresh Gopi. The Left, whose campaign was spearheaded by Mr. Vijayan, had its senior leaders in town.

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Printable version | Jun 4, 2022 6:04:14 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/thrikkakara-byelection-no-holds-barred-campaign-ends-today/article65469866.ece