KOCHI : Speculation is rife that the Ernakulam constituency, traditionally a UDF stronghold, might see a three-cornered battle involving offsprings of Congress leaders in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls. Sitting MP Hibi Eden, son of the late George Eden, is almost set to seek people’s mandate for a second term.
The grapevine has it that Rekha Thomas, the daughter of former Union minister K V Thomas, may be the LDF pick and the BJP could field Anil Antony, the son of veteran Congress leader and former chief minister A K Antony. If that is so, it will virtually be a ‘Congress fight’ in Ernakulam. Thomas, who had been contesting and winning the seat for the Congress from 1984, was not fielded in 2019. The party had instead fielded youth leader Hibi. Subsequently, Thomas moved to the CPM camp but did not quit the Congress.
The widespread connections of Thomas and his rapport with the Latin Catholic church, which has a sizeable influence in the constituency, prompted a talk on the candidature of Rekha, an entrepreneur in Kochi.
Thomas, however, chose to play it down, saying it is premature to comment on the matter.
“There is such a talk. However, no formal discussions have commenced yet,” he told TNIE.
Meanwhile, LDF district convener George Edapparathy said the CPM state leadership will take a final call on such issues. “CPM, the main constituent of the Left front, will decide on the candidate in Ernakulam,” he added. Hibi retained the seat for the Congress in the last election with a margin of 1,69,153 votes. He secured 4,91,263 votes (50.79%) against the 3,22,110 votes (33.3%) polled by CPM’s P Rajeeve. Former Union Minister Alphons Kannanthanam, the NDA candidate, had finished a distant third, securing 1,37,749 votes (14.24%). Alphons lost his deposit since he failed to secure at least 16.66% of the total valid votes.
The BJP, which is leaving no stone unturned to open its account in the state, has focused on putting up a tight fight in all 20 constituencies and has formally launched its poll campaign with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s mega roadshow in Thrissur.
Within a fortnight, Modi has arrived in the state with another roadshow in Kochi, indicating that the saffron party is optimistic about bettering its performance in the coming Lok Sabha elections.
The PM is also scheduled to address BJP’s Shakti Kendra in-charges at Marine Drive, Kochi, on the second day of his visit. The positive response to the party’s Christian outreach programme could lead to Christian candidates in constituencies such as Kottayam and Ernakulam.
Anil Antony, who was recently appointed BJP national secretary, has been shortlisted for the Ernakulam Lok Sabha seat by BJP’s central leadership considering these facts. Sources with the BJP said the candidature of Anil is almost sure in Ernakulam.
“BJP has started preparations for the polls. However, the final names will be announced by the central leadership,” said a top leader.