KOTTAYAM: Like its vast rubber plantations that hide a mysterious silence in depths, the land of letters, latex and lakes leaves no trace of what is in store in the polls. In a never-before scenario, Kottayam heads to an assembly election in an entirely different political situation, making things highly unpredictable.
With a dominant presence of the Kerala Congress and Congress, traditionally Kottayam is considered a UDF fortress. However, the recent history may not aid the UDF this time around, due to various reasons, especially with the new political equations.
A slew of factors, including the switching over of the Kerala Congress(M) to the Left front, the absence of UDF stalwart K M Mani and the recent death of veteran CF Thomas and the fluctuating allegiance of Christian votes — which have always been the UDF’s traditional vote base — are likely to create cracks in the UDF citadel. As winning majority of seats in Kottayam constitutes a crucial proposition for the UDF to form the government, a setback here may spell doom for the right-wing coalition.
“An unprecedented situation prevails in Kottayam district this time. The UDF had a strong base owing to the Congress-KC(M) combination. However, the KC(M) is now with the LDF and its repercussions are sure to be felt in all constituencies, except Puthuppally and Kottayam,” said George Podipara, a senior journalist.
The impact of Jose K Mani’s exit from the UDF had reflected in the local body elections. Besides wresting power in the Kottayam district panchayat, the LDF won 49 out 71 grama panchayats and 10 out of 11 block panchayats with the help of KC (M). The LDF also won Pala municipality for the first time. According to political observers, KC(M)’s entry into the coalition helped the Left make inroads into the Christian vote base in the district.
“The Church has not declared its stand in this election, while Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council has made a call to elect candidates who stand by development and the virtue of the land. If we read between the lines, it is likely to help the LDF. Moreover, the Christian community has also softened their stance towards the Left front,” said C L Thomas, a senior journalist.
At the same time, the UDF could somewhat balance the game by giving due recognition to the Kerala Congress faction led by P J Joseph in seat sharing process and bringing the dissatisfied Mani C Kappan faction to its fold.
Notably, Kappan’s candidature has made the battle even in Pala constituency.However, unlike local body elections, the polling pattern will be different in assembly elections that discuss political issues than local issues. Hence, a prediction on the poll outcome is impossible except in a few constituencies like Puthuppally, Kottayam and Vaikom.