Today's Paper

Battle lines drawn for byelections

Face-to-face: Kannur — M.V. Jayarajan (LDF) and A.P. Abdullakutty (UDF); Ernakulam — P.N. Sinulal (LDF) and Dominic Presentation (UDF); Alappuzha — G. Krishnaprasad (LDF) and A.A. Shukoor (UDF).  

K.M. Tampi

Both fronts announce their candidates for Kannur, Ernakulam, Alappuzha seats

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: With the announcement of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) candidate for the Ernakulam seat and the confirmation of A.P. Abdullakutty’s name as the Congress nominee in Kannur, the stage is set for a battle royale between the rival coalitions of the State in the three Assembly byelections scheduled on November 7.

It was after days of hectic discussions that the CPI(M) announced P.N. Sinulal, a councillor, as its candidate in Ernakulam, coming as a surprise to those who thought that the party was taking so long a time to identify a heavyweight of the same community as that of the Congress candidate Dominic Presentation. The decision to field Mr. Sinulal was taken by the party leadership after CPI(M) State secretary Pinarayi Vijayan held consultations with district leaders.

Surprising decision

The Congress decision to field A.P. Abdullakutty against M.V. Jayarajan of the CPI(M) in Kannur was equally surprising to those who were making calculations on the basis of castes and communities. Even some sections of the Congress had written off Mr. Abdullakutty when the party chose A.A. Shukoor to fight G. Krishnaprasad of the Communist Party of India (CPI) in Alappuzha. Their conclusion, going by past experience, was that the party would not load the dice in favour of one community and thereby antagonise others.

Though only three Assembly seats, vacated by the incumbents after their election to the Lok Sabha, are involved in the bypolls, both coalitions are taking them as a prestige issue.

The Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) is attaching so much importance to the byelections as all the three are its sitting seats. The Congress wants to be returned in all seats. So it has disregarded communal and caste factors and picked up candidates only on the basis of ‘winnability.’

After the setback in the Lok Sabha elections, the CPI(M) and the Left Democratic Front (LDF) it heads are badly in need of a morale booster. This time, the CPI(M) expects to get back the votes it lost in Kannur in the previous elections. It had the LDF election convention in Kannur inaugurated by none other than Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan.

The CPI is confident that its candidate can win the Alappuzha seat if the CPI(M) extends its all-out support to him.

Electioneering

The LDF has evidently stolen a march over its rival in electioneering. It has already held election conventions in all the three constituencies. The LDF candidates of Kannur and Alappuzha started making house visits days ago. The constituencies are also replete with their multi-coloured posters and graffiti. The front’s well-oiled election machinery is working in full strength.

The UDF’s election conventions will get under way with the one in Alappuzha on Wednesday. The front is not spending any sleepless nights over Ernakulam. That Mr. Abdullakutty and Mr. Shukoor are familiar figures in their constituencies is its biggest relief. The front hopes that this factor will make up for any lag in electioneering. It is also putting its election machinery in top gear.

BJP to contest all seats

Special Correspondent writes from Kochi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) decided to contest all the three seats.

BJP State president P.K. Krishnadas said after a meeting of the party leaders here on Tuesday that the names of the candidates would be announced on Wednesday after getting approval from the central leadership of the party.

Mr. Krishnadas said that his party would expose the incompetence of the LDF government as well as the Congress-led Union government. Both the governments were indulging in communal appeasement. They had failed to protect the security of the State, he said.