Poll outcome crucial for Kerala Congress outfits

Stage all set for counting of votes today

As the stage is set for counting of votes for the Assembly elections on Sunday, both the Left Democratic Front (LDF) and United Democratic Fronts (UDF) are having their share of anxious moments.

In Central Travancore, however, the results will be watched primarily to assess how the two mainstream Kerala Congress parties have fared this time. For, the outcome is critical to the future direction and place of these regional parties in the State’s political landscape regardless of their positioning.

The Kerala Congress (M) led by Jose K. Mani, which contested in 12 out of the 13 seats allotted to it by the LDF, amply demonstrated its might in Kottayam during the local body polls last year when it helped the LDF make significant gains in the region. The Kerala Congress led by P.J. Joseph, which contested 10 seats this time, too approached the Assembly elections as a confident side on the back of a stellar performance in Idukki, its home turf, on the same occasion.

Meanwhile, the split has helped the KC outfits to expand their presence to 22 Assembly segments as against the 15 seats when they stood together as a UDF ally. Of these, the two factions have come head-to-head in as many as four seats — Kaduthuruthy, Thodupuzha, Idukki and Changanassery.

Notwithstanding the traditional advantage that the Joseph group holds in three of these seats, the contest appears to be evenly poised in at least two of these segments, Changanassery and Idukki. Among these, it is the battle for Idukki where the KC(M) leader and sitting legislator Roshy Augustine met Francis George, a former Parliament member, that promises to be the most fascinating.

While the KC(M), on the back of an intense election campaign facilitated by the LDF machinery, hopes to bag at least nine seats, including Changanassery and Idukki, the Joseph group counts on winning at least six seats hands down.

“The KC groups have not faced a more critical election in decades than the one it faced this time as a below par performance by them will surely raise questions on their special position assumed in the agrarian core of Idukki and Kottayam. For the Joseph group, it may also mean a hardening of the dissident voices post the reorganisation,” pointed out a senior KC leader.

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