Once friends, they will now fight it out for Kottayam Lok Sabha seat


Thiruvananthapuram, Feb 17 (IANS) Though the upcoming Lok Sabha polls are yet to be announced, the traditional rival political fronts, here have announced their candidates who will fight it out for the prestigious Kottayam parliamentary seat.

The seat is presently represented by Kerala Congress’ (Mani) Thomas Chazhikadan from the ruling CPI-M-led Left Democratic Front.

On Monday, the name of Chazhikadan was announced by his party.

With Saturday’s announcement naming Francis George as candidate by party chairman P.J. Joseph of Kerala Congress, the die has been cast for what is going to be an intense electoral fight to finish between once former party colleagues and good friends.

A look into the rival candidates reveals that they have more similarities than differences.

The similarities include both come from the dominant Catholic community, are former bankers, have been in the Lok Sabha in the past. Besides, they were colleagues in the Kerala Congress (M) for over a decade, until there was a split in their party and more importantly both are known for their soft demeanor.

The 71-year-old Chazhikadan, who is a chartered accountant by profession and worked in a leading private sector bank, jumped into politics, when his brother Babu Chazhikadan, while being a candidate at the 1991 assembly polls died after being hit by a lightning, during his election campaign.

It was after the tragedy, that Chazhikadan came into politics and he won all elections before 2011, when he lost to CPI-M candidate Suresh Kurup and again in the 2016 polls.

But in 2019 when the KC (M) was the third biggest ally of the Congress-led UDF, Chazhikadan was chosen to contest the Kottayam seat and he won defeating the present State Minister for Ports and Cooperation V.N. Vasavan with a margin of over one lakh votes.

Incidentally after the KC (M) led by iconic party founder K.M. Mani passed away in 2019, the relation with the Congress party got strained and soon after that Jose K. Mani faction joined the ruling Left led by the CPI-M.

So during the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Chazhikadan contested as a Congress-led UDF candidate, this time he is contesting as LDF candidate.

Likewise 68-year-old George worked in a leading private sector bank and quit the job to join politics.

George is son of K.M. George, the founder of the Kerala Congress party and was a four-time legislator who passed away while being a minister in 1976.

George was a member in the 13th and 14th Lok Sabha, but then lost successive assembly elections to the Idukki assembly seat, once while contesting as a Left candidate and on the other occasion when he was with the UDF. But on both occasions, he lost to the present State Water Resources Minister Roshy Augustine.

Meanwhile, the BJP-led NDA’s main ally is also contesting from the seat, and in all likelihood the party chief of BDJS — Thushar Vellappally will contest making it an almost triangular poll battle.



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