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Campaign opens for 5 Kerala assembly by-elections
Thiruvananthapuram, Oct 3 (IANS) Five assembly constituencies in Kerala go to the polls on October 21 to elect new legislators.
In four constituencies, the resignations of the sitting Congress legislators who won the recent Lok Sabha polls is the reason for the fresh polls.
Vattiyoorkavu constituency in the state capital is one which will see a strong three-cornered fight and those in the fray include former Congress legislator K. Mohankumar, Thiruvananthapuram Mayor and youth CPI-M leader V.K. Prasanth and Thiruvananthapuram district BJP president S.Suresh.
This is a seat where the BJP came second in the 2016 assembly polls and in the recent Lok Sabha polls also the BJP candidate came second.
Aroor constituency in Alappuzha district will see a direct fight between senior Congress leader Shanimol Usman and youth CPI-M leader Manu C. Pulikan. Also in the fray is BJP leader K.P. Prakash Babu.
Usman is no stranger to the constituency which is part of the Alappuzha Lok Sabha seat, which she contested but lost to sitting CPI-M legislator A.M. Ariff.
Konni is another constituency which will see what appears to be a three-cornered fight between local Congress leader A.P. Mohanraj, BJP candidate K. Surendran, who contested the Pathanamthitta Lok Sabha seat and came a close third in this constituency. The CPI-M has fielded K.U. Janish Kumar.
Ernakulam is another seat which will see a direct contest between the Congress candidate Kochi deputy mayor T.J. Vinod and CPI-M supported independent candidate Manu Roy. Also in the fray is BJP leader C.G. Rajagopal.
The fifth by-election has been caused by the death of Indian Union Muslim League leader P.B. Abdul Razack last year. He represented Manjeswaram in the Assembly. The by-election to the seat was delayed due to an election petition filed by the BJP candidate K. Surendran in 2016.
Like in the previous two elections, this time too the fight is going to be between the IUML candidate and the BJP candidate with the CPI-M also expected to put up a good showing.
In the fray will be local IUML leader M.K. Kamaruddin, the BJP’s Raveesh Thantri Kuntar and the CPI-M’s M. Shankar Rai.
Even though, barring the Aroor seat, all the other four seats are strong Congress-led UDF constituencies, a shock victory for the Left in the Pala by-election last month when their candidate wrested the seat held by UDF strongman K.M.Mani for 52 years, has the entire Left including Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on a high. The Left claims that Pala will be repeated when the results for the five seats are declared.
Hence the Left is on a high but the various issues that will be debated include the attitude of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to the entry of all women into the famed Sabarimala temple, which was one of the major issues that saw his candidates lose all but one of the 20 Lok Sabha seats to the Congress-led UDF.
While CPI-M state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan has already gone on record saying that the Sabarimala issue is not going to be debated during the campaign, Leader of Opposition and Congress veteran Ramesh Chennithala has said that it is certainly an issue and will be taken up by them.
Vijayan said that the corruption which led to the closure of the Rs 42-crore Palaravattom flyover, a major portion of which was built during the previous Congress regime, will be discussed.
The BJP which has just one legislator in the 140 member Kerala Assembly, is hopeful that it can put up a tough fight especially in the two constituencies where they already stand in the second place and at Konni, where its candidate Surendran has advocated breaking the traditions of Sabarimala temple.
But the second biggest ally of the BJP-led NDA – the BDJS – however is not happy with the BJP and as a protest it did not take up the Aroor seat, which was earlier allotted to it. This could give anxious moments to the BJP in at least Aroor and Konni, where the BDJS has a following, while the Left appears to be in a cheerful mood as it expects to be the beneficiary of the disgruntlement in the BDJS.