The Idukki Lok Sabha constituency has grabbed the limelight with rumours doing the rounds that the UDF will field former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy to capture Idukki, which was a Congress bastion for decades. The Church holds sway in the high range district where the recommendations of the Madhav Gadgil and Kasturirangan committees for the conservation of the ecologically sensitive Western Ghats had triggered a slew of protests.
The Congress represented the constituency seven times from 1977 and it was K Francis George of the Kerala Congress (Joseph) group who broke the UDF monopoly in the constituency. Though P T Thomas of the Congress reclaimed the constituency in 2009, the LDF recaptured it by fielding Joice George, an Independent, in 2014.
The Congress hopes to consolidate its position in Idukki by fielding Oommen Chandy, who is the tallest leader of the party in the state. Apart from the debate on the Gadgil-Kasturirangan reports, the rising number of farmer suicides and the delay in rehabilitating flood victims will dominate the campaign.
The LDF will try to highlight the state government’s efforts to get the 3,115-sqkm land from Ecologically Sensitive Areas (ESAs) identified by the Kasturirangan Committee exempted by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change. Interestingly, the UDF claims the efforts made by former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and the subsequent interventions forced the NDA Government to give exemption. The LDF relies on the popularity of Joice George and the development initiatives launched by him during the past five years.