Image used for representational purposes only.
Image used for representational purposes only. (Photo|TP Sooraj)

Election fever peaks in Kottayam amidst intense political contest

As the campaign in the constituency reaches its fag end, the UDF camp is optimistic about a comfortable win, citing various factors.

KOTTAYAM: The intensity of the election campaign in Kottayam constituency surpasses the scorching summer heat. Campaigning started in Kottayam even before the announcement of elections, marking the beginning of a fierce battle for votes. LDF candidate and KC(M) leader, Thomas Chazhikadan, has been tirelessly campaigning for nearly two-and-a-half months. On the other side, UDF candidate Francis George, representing the Kerala Congress PJ Joseph faction, has also been actively engaging with voters for over two months. Despite a delayed start, NDA candidate Thushar Vellappally of BDJS has joined the race and is making up for the lost time with his vigorous campaign efforts.

In the heartland of rubber and Kerala Congress’ political turf, the competition is fiercer than ever. The battle is particularly intense as two factions of the Kerala Congress are pitted against each other, while the BDJS has transformed the race into a three-way contest. All three political fronts are pulling out all the stops in their quest for victory.

As the campaign reaches its fag end, the UDF camp is optimistic about a comfortable win, citing various factors. One key reason for their confidence is that Kottayam is traditionally a UDF stronghold. They are also counting on the communal dynamics in the constituency, with Christian voters making up 37.9 per cent, the Nair community at 17.5 percent, and the Ezhava community at 23.4 percent. The UDF hopes to capitalise on anti-communist sentiments among Christians, as well as the Church’s face-off with the LDF government on issues such as man-animal conflict and the crisis facing rubber farmers.

“Anti-incumbency sentiment is strong, evident in our interactions with voters. The significant rise in the cost of living due to government policies has fuelled people’s desire to express their discontent,” said George Joseph, a UDF follower hailing from Pala.

At the same time, the UDF is also on the defensive as the poll date draws closer following the mass exodus of leaders from the Kerala Congress. Prominent figures such as Kottayam district president Saji Manjakadambil, Kollam district president Arackal Balakrishna Pillai, party vice-chairman V C Chandy Master, and many others have left the party due to dissatisfaction with the leadership.

On the other hand, the LDF focuses on numbers, boasting over three lakh assured votes in the constituency. They point to V N Vasavan of the CPM securing 3.14 lakh votes in the previous election. Combining these votes with those of the Kerala Congress (M) could secure victory for their candidate. They emphasize the clean image of their candidate, Thomas Chazhikadan, and his effective use of MP funds in the constituency.

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The New Indian Express