NDA names Lijin Lal, battle lines for Puthuppally by-election drawn
With the BJP fielding a young candidate who holds an important organisational position, the stage is set for a fierce political battle in Puthuppally.
KOTTAYAM: With the NDA announcing G Lijin Lal as its candidate, battle lines have been drawn for the by-election to the Puthuppally assembly constituency. The BJP central leadership announced Lijin’s name on Monday, along with candidates to six other constituencies in various states where by-elections were declared by the Central Election Commission.
The 40-year-old is the party’s Kottayam district president. With the BJP fielding a young candidate who holds an important organisational position, the stage is set for a fierce political battle in Puthuppally. Though the contest will be between UDF’s Chandy Oommen and LDF’s Jaick C Thomas, BJP’s predominant objective will be to increase its vote share in the constituency and thereby counter allegations of “vote trade”.
In the previous assembly election, BJP’s N Hari secured 11,694 votes. However, this represented a significant decline from the 20,911 votes P C Thomas had gained from the Puthuppally assembly segment in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Moreover, in the 2016 assembly election, George Kurien garnered 15,993 votes for the party.
Lijin’s first responsibility will be to restore the “lost” votes back in the BJP kitty. “With the party central leadership naming its district president, a clear message has been passed to the rank and file,” said a BJP leader.
The party also expects to benefit from the fight between the Nair Service Society (NSS) and the LDF-led government over Speaker A N Shamseer’s remarks on ‘saffronising’ education and passing off religious myths as scientific fact. By fielding a Nair community member, the BJP is eyeing a consolidation of Hindu votes.
With a presence in local bodies such as Kooroppada, Ayarkunnam, Manarcadu and Puthuppally, the BJP expects to better its performance this time. In line with the UDF and the LDF, the BJP also plans to set its election plank on development, highlighting the projects of the NDA government at the Centre. “After this by-election, Puthuppally is set to embark on the path of development. There are several people in the constituency who are beneficiaries of the welfare and development projects being implemented by the Narendra Modi-led NDA government. We will, definitely, get their support,” Lijin told reporters after he was announced as an NDA candidate.
At the same time, internal squabbles threaten to cast a shadow over Lijin’s prospects. “There are many in the party who are dissatisfied with the functioning of the present leadership. Experienced leaders and activists are being sidelined, which would affect the grassroots-level activities of the party. There is no doubt that the functioning of the present leadership will be evaluated in this by-election,” said a senior leader.