KOCHI: With sitting MLA Hibi Eden winning the Lok Sabha election, the by-poll has become inevitable in Ernakulam Assembly constituency. According to the sources within the Congress party, heated discussions are already on within the party circuit to identify the potential candidate.
Counted as a traditional Congress bastion, Ernakulam Assembly constituency’s history shows that communal equations also play a vital role in finalising the candidate. It is learnt both the ‘I’ and ‘A’ factions of the Congress are hatching plans accordingly with former Kochi Mayor Tony Chammany and present DCC president and Deputy Mayor T J Vinodh being the front runners. Both belong to the Latin Catholic community which also is in favour of them.
Though the constituency belongs to the ‘I’ faction of the Congress, the district and state leaders are not giving it due consideration. Ever since Hibi’s name was announced as the Lok Sabha candidate, both the Congress leaders’ names came up before the party leadership.
“It is too early to comment on this matter. But the district Congress leadership is planning to field a strong contestant which will also satisfy the caste and communal equations. At present, Chammany and Vinodh are suitable candidates. However, no formal discussions have begun, but the two leaders will get more priority,” said a top Congress leader in Kochi requesting anonymity.
According to the source, since the party failed to give due consideration to Chammany these years, it will be a chance for the party to field him as the MLA candidate. “It was under the leadership of Chammany, the Congress put a stop to the three-decade-old LDF rule in the Kochi Corporation. Even though Chammany’s name was considered for the 2016 Assembly election, his name was removed from the list. Even the party also denied giving him a DCC seat.
If Chammany had failed to showcase a good administration skill, the party might have lost the Kochi Corporation in the 2015 local body election. Even Chammany had also expressed his willingness to contest as the MLA candidate,” said the Congress leader.
Meanwhile, the ‘I’ group faction of the Congress is also projecting Vinodh as the candidate for the by-election.
“Since Vinodh is also a senior Congress leader, the chances are high. Moreover, the ‘I’ factor is also crucial in the decision. Since the seat belonged to the ‘I’ faction, the ‘I’ group leadership will project him as the MLA candidate. Ramesh Chennithala will also come to support Vinodh,” the source said.
When contacted, Hibi also agreed that Chammany and Vinodh will be the strong contenders to be considered for the vacant seat.