BJP has nominated A.N. Radhakrishnan as NDA candidate
The electoral battle lines in the Thrikkakara constituency became more apparent on Sunday, with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) nominating its State vice president A.N. Radhakrishnan as the National Democratic Alliance's (NDA) candidate for the "pivotal" Assembly byelection.
With the Twenty20 staying out of the skirmish, the contours of the electoral fight appeared to be taking a final shape. The party's withdrawal from the electoral field is widely viewed as a tactical win for the United Democratic Front (UDF).
The Twenty20 had garnered nearly 13,897 votes in Thrikkakara in the 2021 Assembly polls. Its vote share could distinguish between victory and defeat. Sabu M. Jacob, chief coordinator of Twenty20, justified the retreat by averring that the bypoll outcome would not have “a decisive impact on the ruling formation.”
The bypoll is arguably a significant test for the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government and its contentious development agenda, chiefly K-Rail (Silverline). It is also reckoned a barometer of how far divisive dog-whistle issues such as "narcotic jihad" and "love jihad" have gained traction.
BJP State president K. Surendran said both "social concerns" would figure prominently in the NDA's election campaign. Mr. Surendran, somewhat pointedly, claimed to have the backing of the Church. Notably, a Christian denomination had flagged the deeply polarising subject in a controversial pastoral letter.
In the 2021 Assembly elections, the BJP had garnered 15,483 votes, an estimated 11.38% of the total ballots polled in Thrikkakara. It hopes to improve the tally.
The Congress had deftly sidestepped the fractious wrangles that herald candidate selection by nominating Uma Thomas, wife of late Thrikkakara legislator P. T. Thomas, as the UDF candidate. It reckons that Thomas's enduring goodwill among the electorate and the UDF's strident campaign against K-Rail could guarantee a win.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] has thrown its organisational weight behind Left Democratic Front (LDF) candidate Jo Joseph, arguably a Church-backed dark horse for the seat, by assigning him the party symbol. A CPI(M) Independent had lost to Thomas by nearly 14,329 votes in the 2021 Assembly polls. The LDF hopes to seize lost political ground and bridge the deficit by endearing itself to traditionally UDF voters, including minorities.