KOCHI: Ernakulam constituency has been a traditional stronghold of the United Democratic Front (UDF), but this time around it won’t be a cakewalk for the coalition candidate.
While Congress’ sitting MLA T J Vinod, who won by a margin of mere 3,673 votes in the 2019 bypoll, is looking to increase his majority and retain the seat, LDF, which won Kochi Corporation in the 2020 local body polls, is aiming to wrest the seat from the UDF by fielding an independent, Shaji George, a social and public figure.
Vinod, who has been an MLA for fewer than 18 months, is upbeat about UDF increasing its majority.
“I did not get much time to serve as an MLA and then the pandemic set in. But I was able to launch many new projects, besides completing the ones begun by Hibi Eden. There is anti-incumbency in the state and UDF will win the polls,” Vinod said.
LDF is hoping that by supporting George, a leader of Kerala Region Latin Catholic Council who has the church’s support, it will secure the votes of the Latin Catholic community.
George who actively takes part in the issues faced by the fishing community is banking on the personal contacts he has developed over the last two decades to turn them into votes.
“People want the continuity of LDF government and there is a great chance for the front in Ernakulam too,” George said.
Mahila Morch state secretary Padmaja S Menon, a journalist and daughter of veteran trade union leader late SCS Menon, is the NDA candidate.
“Our aim is not to increase the vote share but to win the constituency. We will make a dent in the traditional vote banks of UDF and LDF. Our campaign will focus on basic issues like waterlogging, unclean canals, unscientific roads,” Menon said.
The presence of regional players like Twenty20 and V4 People Party, will also prove to be a decisive factor.
While Twenty20 has chosen Leslie Pallath, another Latin Catholic and former principal of St Albert’s College, V4 People has picked Sujith Sukumaran, a 43-year-old techie, as its candidate. Both parties are looking to sway the neutral voters with their new approach to politics.
The traditional vote bank of LDF is very unlikely to be breached but the UDF does not rule out the possibility of making a dent in its vote bank.
If George manages to woo the Latin Catholic community and if BJP increases its vote share while Twenty20 and V4 People manage to garner some of the neutral votes, the possibility of LDF scoring an upset win in Ernakulam cannot be ruled out.