The contest for the vacant Thrikkakara Assembly seat in Ernakulam is expected to heat up in the coming days with the UDF attempting to hold on to it, the ruling LDF seeking to increase its tally to 100 by taking the constituency and the AAP joining forces with the Twenty20 party in the hope of finding a toehold in the southern state.
The Thrikkakara seat fell vacant after the death of Congress leader P T Thomas in December last year.
The by-election for the seat is to be held on May 31 and the last date for filing nominations is May 11.
The Congress-led UDF, which would prefer that its numbers in the assembly be not reduced, will be looking to field a strong candidate and there are rumours that Thomas’ widow, Uma Thomas, could be one of the persons under consideration.
Congress has said that it would be discussing with the public the alleged anti-people activities of the government during the last one year and especially the SilverLine project.
It has said that SilverLine would be the main topic of its election campaign and if UDF does not win the seat, it can be interpreted as the people’s consent to implement the project.
Uma Thomas, speaking to a TV channel, on Tuesday said that she was not aware whether her name was being considered or not and that she will take a decision based on what the Congress party decides.
She also said that she is very familiar with the constituency as she has been living there for around 20-25 years and has played an active part in the political work and poll campaigns along with her husband.
Congress leader and former Kochi MLA Dominic Presentation, on the other hand, was of the view that sentiment politics would not work in Thrikkakara.
Speaking to a TV channel, he said on Tuesday that the constituency has a lot of “social equations” and sentiments may not work there.
What does work there is party-related politics, he said.
Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president and MP K Sudhakaran, speaking to reporters in Thiruvananthapuram, said a candidate would be announced soon.
He also said that he was not bothered by AAP and Twenty20 joining forces.
“We don’t mind it,” he said.
A similar view was also expressed by Leader of Opposition in the state assembly V D Satheesan, who said in a politically aware state like Kerala, apolitical arguments of the AAP will not work.
Sudhakaran further said that anyone who takes part in a contest does so under the belief that they will win and therefore, the LDF was free to claim it will win in Thrikkakara and increase its tally in the state assembly to 100.
His remarks came in response to queries inviting his views on Kerala Law Minister and CPI(M) leader P Rajeev’s statement that LDF’s aim was to increase its tally to 100 in the assembly.
Rajeev, speaking to reporters here earlier in the day, said that the Left Front intends to sway voters through its developmental work and secular politics.
He said that the LDF hopes and believes that the people of Thrikkakara would stand with a party which is for development and not with one which is against it.
He further said that when SilverLine comes to Thrikkakara, it will become the heart of the state and people there would support that.
The third major party in Kerala — BJP — and its national-level alliance NDA is also gearing up for the by-election, the party’s state president K Surendran has said.
He said that the party and its alliance would soon decide on a strong candidate who would contest from the vacant assembly seat.
Meanwhile, Twenty20, which secured around 14,000 votes in the constituency in the assembly polls last year, is joining forces with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) to throw a spanner into the plans of UDF and LDF.
Twenty20 founder and party president Sabu Jacob, also the MD of Kitex Garments, told a TV channel today that they have decided to field a new candidate jointly with AAP and 3-4 names are under consideration.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s upcoming visit to Kerala appears to be a consequence of this alliance with his party probably hoping to replicate its success in Punjab and the national capital in the southern state.
Jacob said the objective was to find a good candidate for Thrikkakara and not which label — AAP or Twenty20 — such a person would carry.
He said that the party’s decision last year to contest the Thrikkakara seat was a last minute thing and despite that it won around 14,000 votes which indicated what people want.
This time round they were better prepared, he added.