Thiruvananthapuram: Apart from the loss of a
trusted partner and able administrator, the untimely demise of
Kerala Congress (J) leader and Food Minister TM Jacob has
further narrowed the wafer-thin majority of the ruling
Congress-led UDF in Kerala Assembly to 71 in the 140-member
According to political observers, it would be a tightrope
walk for the government in the Assembly if the by-election to
the Piravom Assembly segment held by Jacob gets delayed.
Jacob, who had been hospitalised for some time, died of
multiple organ failure on Sunday.
Jacob`s death has come at a tough time for the Oommen
Chandy government which has been under attack from the CPI(M)
-led LDF Opposition in the Assembly.
Since last week, the LDF has declared a virtual war on
the government over a host of issues like the lascivious
diatribe of Forest Minister K B Ganesh Kumar against
Opposition Leader V S Achuthanandan and government Chief Whip
P C George`s alleged casteist remarks against CPI(M) MLA AK
To the relief of the ruling front, the current session of
the Assembly would end this week after passing the Finance
and Appropriation Bill.
It means that if the government wishes, it could wait for
upto six months for the next session of the House.
In the Assembly polls held in April 2011, the UDF had
managed to wrest power from the LDF with a slim majority of
just 2 seats above the half-way mark of 70. The elected
strength of the UDF includes the Speaker, a Congress nominee.
Though the nominated Anglo Indian member takes the UDF
tally to 73, he would not be able to vote in the event of a no
UDF`s 72 seats was the poorest tally scored by the winner
in the last three decades in Kerala, which has a reputation of
alternating between the UDF and the LDF every five years.
Jacob`s victory margin over his LDF rival in the Piravom
seat was just 157 votes.
All these factors, according to observers, make the
by-poll victory in Piravom vital for the UDF.
Local media is rife with the speculation that a kin of
Jacob would be considered by the UDF as a contestant for the
Piravom seat in view of the high stakes involved and local
factors like community considerations.
Jacob, who belonged to the Jacobite faction of the
Malankara Syrian Church, had often been seen as the UDF`s
strongest link with the community establishment, which has
been at loggerheads with the Orthodox faction of the church