Season of suspense and surprises in Kerala

There seems to be no end to the suspense, surprises and heartburn in Kerala even after the campaign for the April 13 assembly polls moved to top gear with filing of nominations closing by the week-end.

Last Updated: Mar 27, 2011, 14:09 PM IST

Thiruvananthapuram: There seems to be no
end to the suspense, surprises and heartburn in Kerala even
after the campaign for the April 13 assembly polls moved to
top gear with filing of nominations closing by the week-end.

Never before has Kerala witnessed such poll-eve shift
of loyalties as last week with a fiery CPI(M) student leader
crossing over to Congress, an LDF MLA all of a sudden finding
merit in BJP and a Congresswoman becoming the LDF candidate.

The announcement of Congress` candidates list has led
to widespread resentment in the party with the losers blaming
it on their mentors for failure to secure tickets for them.
One striking image of the LDF campaign in 2006 was
that of SFI leader Sindhu Joy leading a student agitation on
crutches after she was injured, allegedly in a police
lathicharge.

The LDF had projected her as the symbol of the UDF
government`s use of force to suppress students` stir against
privatisation of the education sector and CPI(M) pitted her
against Congress leader and then Chief Minister Oommen Chandy
in the assembly polls.
She also unsuccessfully contested the Ernakulam Lok
Sabha seat in 2009 against Union Minister K V Thomas.

The `poster girl` of CPI(M) sprang a surprise last
week by quitting the party and joining the Congress.

A national vice-president of CPI-M?s student outfit
SFI, Sindhu said she was deeply disappointed with CPI(M),
whose bosses had `neglected` her over the last several months.

Her first act after deserting CPI(M) was to canvass
support for Chandy in his pocket borough Puthupally, where she
went hammer and tongs against him five years back.

Seeking to play down Sindu`s switch over,CPI(M)
dismissed her from the party the very moment she announced her
decision to part ways with the Left and join the UDF campaign.

She is now in great demand by UDF contestants all over
the state, who think that a young woman like Sindhu could
defuse LDF`s claim of being the passionate defenders of
women`s rights and privileges.

"We will certainly make use of her services to the
maximum. She is an energetic person, an eloquent speaker and
it was out of conviction that she quit CPI (M) and joined
Congress," a Congress leader from Kottayam said.

The CPI(M) too had a catch this time in Jaya Dali, a young
Congress woman, who left the party protesting her "continuous
neglect" by the leadership.

No sooner did she announce her decision to quit Congress
than CPI(M) made her its candidate for Kattakkada near the
state capital, pulling out the candidate it initially
identified for the segment.

Though not as widely known as Sindhu Joy, physically
challenged Jaya is known for her oratorial skills and has
campaigned for Congress with great zest since her school days.

CPI(M) leaders justified the decision to make Jaya the LDF
candidate, holding that such `tactical` moves are in order in
a keen political battle like this.

Perhaps, the most surprising poll season conversion is that
of former bureaucrat and LDF MLA Alphons Kannamthanam, who
embraced BJP and straightaway got into its national executive.

Kannamthanam, who hit the headlines in 1990s by ordering
demolition of illegal buildings in Delhi as Development
Commissioner, resigned from IAS and was elected to the Kerala
assembly as an LDF-Independent from Kanjirapally in 2006.

This time, LDF planned to put him up again from Poonjar
segment, close to this sitting seat but he declined, saying he
did not intend to run for state polls again as he was keen to
use his talents at the national level.

According to Kannamthanam, it was BJP leaders who sent
feelers to him with the offer of giving a role to him in their
developmental initiatives.

Besides his successful record in civil service, BJP also
finds it important that a Christian belonging to an
influential church denomination has joined the party unmindful
of its image as a component of `Hindutva` parivar.

PTI