Kerala

Three-way battle in Pathanamthitta

As electioneering in Pathanamthitta gathers pace, it is an exceedingly close three-way contest to the district panchayat that is on the cards with no overarching trend discernible.

With 16 candidates withdrawing their nominations on the final day, 60 people, including 26 women, will now be contesting in the 16 divisions of the local body. Of this, Ranni has the highest number of candidates with seven persons while the three major coalitions – United Democratic Front, Left Democratic Front and National Development Alliance -- will battle it out directly between themselves in as many as eight divisions.

Five divisions, including Angadi, Konni and Pramadam, have four candidates each while the Enathu division has five contestants.

During the previous election in 2015, the UDF scored a clear victory with 11 seats against the five won by the LDF . However, the split in the Kerala Congress (M) -- the second biggest party in the Congress-led coalition -- and the subsequent changes in the coalition equations have raised hopes for the LDF this time.

Interestingly, the rival groups of the Kerala Congress led by Jose K. Mani and P.J. Joseph are clashing with each other in two divisions, namely Pulikeezhu and Ranni.

Meanwhile, the presence of senior figures such as Robin Peter of the Congress, Ashokan Kulanada of the BJP and R.Ajayakumar of the LDF have made exciting the battles in a couple of other divisions such as Pramadam and Kulanada.

Despite being the traditional favourite, the UDF had been initially busy fending off the rebel menace but managed to quell the dissenting voices to a considerable extent

In Ranni, however, former Congress block committee president Benny Puthenparambil is contesting as an Independent against the candidate fielded by the Joseph group .

Bolstered by the induction of the Mani group, the LDF hopes to turn the tables this time and take the lead in the local body for once.

A resurgent NDA, meanwhile, counts on an unusually strong candidate and the sharp increase in its vote share during the previous Parliament election and Assembly bypolls to stage an upset and open the account.

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Printable version | Jan 17, 2021 9:51:45 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/three-way-battle-in-pathanamthitta/article33170718.ece

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