Chandy, Mani fight to assert credibility in Kottayam

Chandy, Mani fight to assert credibility in Kottayam

Kerala

Chandy, Mani fight to assert credibility in Kottayam

Amid Kottayam’s searing summer heat, two stalwarts of Kerala politics in the central district are fighting the political firestorm that threatens to tarnish their credibility.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and Kerala Congress’ Mani remain icons in their respective Assembly constituencies of Puthupally and Pala, but the corruption scandals that engulfed the UDF regime have put them in rather unfamiliar territories.

Chandy (72) won Puthupally for ten times since 1970, while Mani (83) has been representing Pala since 1965.

The CPM has fielded the 25-year-old Students Federation of India state president Jaick C Thomas against Chandy. More than caring for immediate success, the Left now offers a flavour of change and an alternative, something Chandy himself represented back in 1970 when, as a 26-year-old, he defeated  CPI(M)’s E M George to win Puthupally.

“Chandy starts as favourite,” admits Kottayam-based businessman Reji George. “He has a huge support base in Puthupally built largely on familiarity factor. The point, however, is whether or not his rivals are able to draw votes in Puthupally discussing the state and THE solar scam IN WHICH Chandy himself is under the scanner or scandals that linked other ministers.”

C Mathew, a Congress supporter in Ettumanoor, based his verdict on Chandy’s personal connection with Puthupally and his overall credentials as a leader.

“Is there a leader of Chandy’s stature who did not face allegations?” Mathew said, admitting that even Chandy’s popularity in the constituency is unlikely to afford him the kind of winning margin he enjoyed in 2011. The Chief Minister won by 30,000 votes in the previous polls.

K M Mani would also look at his winning margin of 5,259 over his NCP rival Mani Kappen with increasing trepidation. In 2016, he faces Kappen again, amid sliding votes and the possible impact of the bar bribery scam, over which he was forced to resign as a minister.

If victory margins in the past two elections are any indication, Mani is likely to put up a strong resistance. His performance would also hinge on his ability to reduce the impact of the bar scam.

Kerala Congress, a 50-year-old political force in the Christian, settler-farmer belts of Kottayam and Idukki districts, is facing its worst crisis in the wake of the bar scam, subsequent resignation of party chairman Mani as Finance Minister and another break-up in its ranks.

 

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