Battle may go down to the wire in this Cong. bastion
The battle for the Chalakudy Lok Sabha constituency may go down to the wire following the keen triangular tussle shaping up among the prominent fronts.
Will actor-turned-politician Innocent of the Left Democratic Front (LDF) make it a second time or whether United Democratic Front (UDF) convener Benny Behanan upset his run? Can Bharatiya Janata Party’s A.N. Radhakrishnan put a spoke in the poll prospects of the LDF and UDF? This is the million dollar question as the electoral mood is difficult to predict.
With Mr. Behanan now recuperating after angioplasty following a heart attack, his campaign is being led by four young Congress MLAs in the constituency.
Carved out of the former Mukundapuram Lok Sabha constituency, Chalakudy comprises three Assembly segments in Thrissur district (Kaipamangalam, Chalakudy and Kodungalloor) and four in Ernakulam district (Perumbavoor, Angamaly, Aluva and Kunnathunad). A traditional stronghold of the Congress for long, Mukundapuram had decided the political fortunes of heavyweights such as Panampilly Govinda Menon, A.C. George and K. Karunakaran.
In the past 16 elections, the Left or Left-backed candidates had only won four times – in 1957, 1980, 2004 and in 2014.
Mr. Innocent, who defeated P.C. Chacko of the Congress by 13,884 votes in 2014, seems riding high on projects worth ₹1,750 crore implemented in the constituency.
However, his initial position not to contest again from Chalakudy along with allegations that he was not accessible to the voters provided ammunition to his opponents.
Unlike Mr. Chacko who had to face the ire of both the ‘A’ and ‘I’ factions of the Congress in 2014, Mr. Behanan enjoys the support of senior Congress leaders Oommen Chandy and Ramesh Chennithala.
However, the UDF faces an uphill task from the CPI(M)’s party machinery and the development plank being projected by Mr. Innocent.
Mr. Radhakrishnan is hopeful of improving the party’s performance in 2014 when it polled 92,848 votes.
The August floods and the flaws in the reconstruction process are the key election issues. Poll pundits remain divided on the impact of the political position of the Nair Service Society post-Sabarimala controversy.
The leading fronts also remain eager to get a pie of the share of the support from Twenty20 Kizhakkambalam which decided not to contest the polls after its move to field Director General of Police Jacob Thomas failed to materialise. Both the UDF and LDF hope that a swing in minority votes will help them sail through in the final lap.