LS polls: UDF may field P J Joseph in Kottayam
Front feels Kottayam can be wrested from LDF if a formidable candidate like Joseph is fielded from constituency
KOCHI: Kerala Congress (M)’s decision to demand two seats in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls has triggered discussions on the likelihood of Kerala Congress (Joseph) contesting from Kottayam in the next parliament elections. Talks are revolving around KC (J) faction chairman P J Joseph contesting from the seat. The general feeling in the UDF camp is that Kottayam can be wrested from the LDF if a formidable candidate like Joseph is fielded from the constituency which was once hailed as its bastion.
Sources said the Congress, which is leading the UDF, is willing to give the Kottayam seat to KC (J) if Joseph or Kaduthuruthi MLA Mons Joseph enter the fray, taking into account the high winning chances.
KC (J) insiders are of the view that if Joseph agrees to contest, it could avoid resentment in the front as Congress is also eyeing the seat.
“Congress leaders want P J Joseph in Kottayam. Mons Joseph is the second option. However, fielding Mons is a risky affair as he currently the MLA of Kaduthuruthi assembly constituency,” said a top leader of the party. Joseph faction working chairman P C Thomas and party deputy chairman Francis George are the other prominent names being considered. However, they are tried and tested leaders, sources said. Meanwhile, Congress is also exploring options to take over the Kottayam seat as the KC(M), which held the seat earlier switched to the LDF. Moreover, of the seven assembly constituencies in Kottayam, five are held by UDF.
Though party leaders feel that they can wrest the seat by fielding a strong candidate, top leaders are willing to allocate the Kottayam seat, which has a sizeable Christian population, to the Kerala Congress to placate the community.
The 82-year-old Joseph’s health is the only matter of concern but the party leaders said he is active in party affairs especially on his home turf Thodupuzha as an MLA.
Joseph had contested in the Muvattupuzha LS seat in 1989 as an independent after severing ties with the UDF, but he had to forfeit his deposit. Though his party sent two MPs to Lok Sabha in the 1984 polls, a record in the history of Kerala Congress, and represented the Idukki LS constituency twice, Joseph could not make an entry into Parliament so far.
“The party which could win only two seats in the 2021 assembly polls can regain its recognition with a likely victory in Kottayam. And if Joseph wins Kottayam seat, he can pick his son Apu John Joseph, the party’s professional wing head, as his successor in Thodupuzha,” said sources.