Kerala Assembly elections 2021: Constituency Watch

Rubber heartland presents a hotbed of possibilities

The gradual shift of Kottayam, historically a United Democratic Front (UDF) bastion, towards the Left during the recent local body elections, could have surprised many. In reality, it was the product of a political churning triggered by choice, happenstance, and improvisations by many players following the death of K.M. Mani, the Kerala Congress patriarch.

As the State enters another election season, the rubber heartland with nine Assembly seats is at the centre of political discourses once again. For the two coalitions that aspire to form the next government in Thiruvananthapuram, winning the maximum number of seats here is crucial.

The fight for Kottayam has become all the more intense with the Kerala Congress (M) [KC(M)] led by Jose K. Mani giving up its decades-long association with the Congress and joining the Left Democratic Front (LDF). Adding to the turbulent political climate was the move by Mani C. Kappan, the sitting legislator of Pala, to break away from the Left and join the rival front by forming a new party.

Battle for Pala

The KC(M) has already demonstrated its worth to the LDF by helping the coalition win handsomely in the local body polls. In Mr. Kappan’s case, the outcome of this election will determine his political future as well that of his party, the Nationalist Congress Kerala. All eyes will be on Pala, with Mr. Mani and Mr. Kappan likely to face off there.

If Pala was in limelight ahead of the election, Poonjar, a neighbouring constituency, has jostled its way into spotlight with the onset of electioneering. With the UDF shelving an earlier proposal to bring the P.C. George-led Kerala Janapaksham (Secular) on board, the constituency will witness a gritty three-way contest once again. Mr. George is likely to enter into a tacit understanding with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Three KC contestants

If P.C. Thomas, who also shares the Kerala Congress legacy, contests as the National Democratic Alliance candidate in Kaduthuruthy, the constituency will witness a rare battle among the three Kerala Congress splinter groups.

The Congress will field five candidates, including Oommen Chandy and Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan in Puthuppally and Kottayam. The P.J. Joseph faction of the Kerala Congress will get three seats, and Mr. Kappan will contest from Pala.

In the LDF, the CPI(M) will field candidates in three seats — Kottayam, Puthupally and Ettumanur — while the KC(M) may contest in four. If the coalition accedes to its demand for Changanassery, the CPI will get the other two seats.

The NDA, keen on opening its account, hopes to tilt the balance in its favour in at least constituencies such as Kanjirappally by highlighting the Sabarimala factor and the ‘disenchantment of the State government.’

The crisis in the plantation and farming sectors, the stance of the Nair Service Society, and the dispute between the Orthodox and Jacobite Churches are the other crucial determinants of the election outcome.

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Printable version | May 18, 2021 6:51:33 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/rubber-heartland-presents-a-hotbed-of-possibilities/article34022693.ece

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