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Idukki: UDF may struggle to wrest erstwhile Congress’ bastion

However, there is much hope for the UDF in Thodupuzha, where Kerala Congress supremo P J Joseph is in the fray.

Published: 22nd March 2021 06:50 AM  |   Last Updated: 23rd March 2021 12:57 PM   |  A+A-

Kerala Congress supremo P J Joseph

Express News Service

IDUKKI: Over the past one-and-a-half decades, the erstwhile Congress bastion of Idukki has been gradually drifting towards the LDF. In fact, the district has not sent a single member of the grand old party to the assembly since 2006. In 2016, KC(M) had managed to secure the Idukki and Thodupuzha seats, while LDF retained the remaining three — Udumbanchola, Peermade and Devikulam.The results of the recent local body poll too delivered a severe blow to the UDF leadership here, as LDF wrested 31 of the 51 grama panchayats, four block panchayats and the district panchayat.

However, there is much hope for the UDF in Thodupuzha, where Kerala Congress supremo P J Joseph is in the fray. Joseph had won with a record margin of 45,587 votes here in the last elections. He has represented the constituency nine times so far. Thodupuzha is one of the two seats in Idukki where the Joseph faction, a UDF constituent, is in direct contest with the Jose K Mani-led Kerala Congress (M), which is now with the LDF. In fact, his rival candidate K I Antony of the KC(M) was earlier a member of Joseph’s party.

Idukki is the other constituency in the district which will witness the Joseph and Jose factions lock horns. In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the UDF had a lead of 37,116 votes in the assembly segment. The LDF had garnered 47,319 votes and the NDA 15,223. However, UDF’s lead declined to 6,424 votes in the 2020 local body elections.The Kerala Congress has been contesting from the Idukki seat since 1991. In 2016, incumbent KC(M) MLA Roshy Augustine garnered 60,556 votes to secure the seat, defeating his former Kerala Congress colleague K Francis George by 9,333 votes. With the Jose faction joining the Left front, Roshy has now been named the LDF candidate. Meanwhile, the UDF allotted the seat to the Joseph faction, which fielded Francis George.

Syriac Thomas, who lost the Peermade seat by a mere 314 votes to E S Bijimol of CPI in 2016, is seeking mandate again this time. The CPI has fielded trade union leader Vazhoor Soman, replacing sitting MLA Bijimol. Udumbanchola, which is being represented by Electricity Minister and senior CPM leader M M Mani, is set to witness a repeat of the constituency’s 1996 battle. Former MLA and senior Congress leader E M Augusthy, who won the seat by a margin of 4,667 votes 25 years ago, has been fielded to wrest the seat from Mani this time. In 2016, the UDF had lost by just 1,109 votes. 



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