KOCHI: The byelection in Thrikkakara assembly constituency is set to be a three-cornered fight as the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)-Twenty20 combine has decided to stay away from the contest. With this development, the focus is now on the more than 13,000 votes Twenty20 had secured in 2021 polls.
Meanwhile, the BJP has fielded senior leader and party state vice-president AN Radhakrishnan in Thrikkakara, a move seen as a bid to regain its lost support base in the constituency. Twenty20 chief coordinator Sabu Jacob, who returned from New Delhi on Sunday evening, said both AAP and Twenty20 have agreed not to contest as the result would not have any impact on state politics.
"We have decided not to contest as it is not a crucial election. Delhi Chief Minister and AAP national convenor Arvind Kejriwal will participate in a conference at Kizhakkambalam on May 15. We have decided to concentrate on organising the meeting and strengthening the party for 2024 general elections," said Sabu.
By fielding a senior leader like Radhakrishnan, the BJP is hopeful of putting up a good show. The party, which polled 21,216 votes in Thrikkakara in the 2016 assembly polls, had lost around 6,000 votes in the 2021 elections. It could secure only 15,483 votes in 2021, which had triggered a controversy within the party.
"We will highlight the people-friendly schemes introduced by the Union government which will turn the tide in our favour. We are fighting to win and the recent developments in state politics will favour us," said Radhakrishnan.
However, the steep hike in fuel and cooking gas prices seems to be bothering the BJP leaders in the state. They, however, blame the state government for refusing to reduce the tax on petroleum products.
We expect Twenty20 supporters will vote against LDF: DCC prez
"It is too early to predict how the withdrawal of AAP-Twenty20 combine will influence the results. Twenty20 had polled 13,897 votes in the 2021 polls, but the votes did not drain from any speparty. Most of the supporters of Twenty20 and AAP are educated middleclass people, and I think the main debate will be on development projects like K-Rail" said Centre for Socio-economic and Environmental Studies (CSES) senior fellow Krishnakumar KK.
The Congress and the BJP hope the supporters of Twenty20 will vote against the LDF government in view of the standoff between the CPM and Twenty20 in Kizhakkambalam, where a party worker was murdered. Besides, they feel the frequent raids at Kitex which forced Sabu Jacob to abandon a Rs 3,500-crore project in Kerala will be fresh in the minds of party supporters.
"We expect the Twenty20 supporters will vote against the anti-people policies of the LDF government. The state is implementing projects like SilverLine against the will of the public and has failed to reign in the communal forces. We request them to support the UDF candidate to give a warning to the state government," said DCC president Mohammed Shiyas.
"The Twenty20 does not have a strong vote base and I think the momentum they got in 2021 was based on some other factors. This time, the debate is on development. The people who want development and jobs will support the LDF candidate. It is true that we had some issues with Twenty20, but they had issues with Congress too," said CPM state secretariat member M Swaraj.