In Chalakudy, veteran Chacko to take on Innocent

As Chalakudy readies for the April 10 Lok Sabha polls, battle lines seem to be drawn for a straight contest between two candidates who have no prominent signs of issue-driven support or opposition.

Film actor Innocent is contesting as an Independent backed by the Left Democratic Front (LDF) candidate against Congress veteran P C Chacko in an attempt to pull off an upset in the constituency that the Congress won in 2009.

The candidature of 67-year-old Chacko, an All India Congress Committee (AICC) spokesperson, has come with its share of twists. He discarded Thrissur — the seat he won in 2009 — citing opposition against him in the local unit and even hinted at not contesting the election.

The party intervened to pacify the miffed leader by arranging a seat-switch; K P Dhanapalan, the sitting MP from Chalakudy, was offered Thrissur and Chacko charted for Chalakudy.

The party dismisses the possibility of voters being apprehensive about a candidate forced on them. “After five years, there will be some resentment against any sitting MP… you can’t escape that. This seat-switch has only benefited Chacko and Dhanapalan,” said P J Joy, former Congress MLA from Angamaly and chairman of the United Democratic Front (UDF) election committee in the constituency.

The Congress has targeted the Left over the candidature of 69-year-old Innocent, a much-adored actor but a novice in politics. The Left is banking on the actor’s charm that cuts across party lines. “We are seeing unprecedented crowds at his rallies.
Further, his image as a grounded, accessible man should help us in a big way,” said CPI(M) leader C N Mohanan, who is also the election committee general secretary.

The Congress turns to history for consolation: Film stars have not had a great run in Kerala’s politics; popular actors including Prem Nazir, the matinee idol from the 1960s to 1980s, have failed to break the jinx.

The face-off between two Christian candidates in this central Kerala constituency with a marked Christian presence will be more intense than what the candidates’ political credentials suggest.

The Left is targeting policies endorsed by the UPA and the UDF governments at the Centre and the state. The Congress, while acknowledging that the result would be a progress report for the state government, seeks votes for stability at the Centre.

But Chacko, who was chairman of the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) that probed into the 2G scam, had himself said recently that conditions were not favourable for the UPA to retain power. Did he speak his mind and too soon? “He was misquoted and he has clarified on the comment,” said Joy.

The constituency is spread over two districts — Thrissur and Ernakulam — and covers seven Assembly constituencies: Kaipamangalam, Chalakkudy, Kodungallur, Perumbavoor, Angamaly, Aluva and Kunnathunad.

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