KOCHI: With barely a few months left for the by-election in Ernakulam constituency, heated discussions are already on in the UDF camp to select the candidate. Though names of DCC president T J Vinodh and former Mayor Tony Chammany were in the possible list of candidates, the latest report from party sources confirms that veteran Congress leader K V Thomas is also working hard to get a place in the list.
According to a senior Congress leader, Thomas has expressed his interest to contest from Ernakulam constituency.
“Though no formal discussions have taken place over the selection of the candidate, several names are coming up before the leadership. If earlier Vinodh and Chammany were in the top list, now Thomas has also got a place in the list. Since he is capable of putting pressure on the high command, it will not be easier for the state leadership to omit his name. It is learned that he has also expressed his willingness to the state leadership to contest the election,” said the Congress leader.
Since the veteran leader belongs to the Latin Catholic community, the communal equations are not going to pose a threat to the Congress leader. Even though the constituency belongs to the ‘I’ faction, the party is not giving it due consideration owing to certain factors.
“For the Lok Sabha, there was only one name from Ernakulam constituency. But the veteran leader’s candidature was denied in the last minute. Though Hibi Eden won the Lok Sabha election, the damage that the party created is immense. By giving him a chance, the party leadership can easily pacify the senior leader who is still fit to contest several elections. So, there is a chance for the leadership to field him as a candidate,” said the source.
However, other sources in the party said the selection of the candidate will be based on a ‘package’. “There are several factors that need to be considered before fielding a candidate. As per the information, the UDF will go for a statewide ‘package’ before announcing the names of candidates. At present, ‘I’ group is holding the DCC at Palakkad and ‘A’ group holding the DCC at Thrissur and they are awaiting a change of guard following the Lok Sabha election results.
In Ernakulam, DCC belongs to the ‘I’ group. If the leadership allows Vinodh to contest from the Ernakulam seat, there will be another vacancy. So the DCC power should be equally distributed to the groups. All these will be considered as a package before announcing the name of the candidate,” said the source.
Meanwhile, party sources are not ready to deny equal opportunity to Chammany and Vinodh.
“ The Congress put a stop to the three-decade-old LDF rule in Kochi Corporation under the aegis of Chammany. Tough Chammany’s name was considered for the 2016 Assembly election, it was removed from the list. The party has to generate a future leader from its strong bastion. Since Vinodh is an ‘I’ group member and the seat belongs to the ‘I’ group, Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala will also project him as a candidate. But the DCC leadership and the Deputy Mayor post will adversely affect selection. If he resigns from the post of Deputy Mayor it will create a lot of trouble in the Corporation,” the source said.
However, when contacted Thomas said that the formal discussions over the selection of the candidate are yet to start.
“No formal discussions have started in the party regarding the selection of the candidate. When my name was removed from the Lok Sabha candidate list, Sonia Gandhi had assured that a respectable position in the party will be given. So far, no decision has been taken by the high command in this regard. It is up to the party leadership to decide whom to field for the election,” said Thomas.