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    'Baby' of Kerala polls pitted against veteran

    Kochi: The youngest contestant of the April 13 Assembly polls in prestigious Ernakulam constituency, NSUI President Hibi Eden of Congress-led UDF will cross swords with veteran Sebastian Paul of CPM-led LDF. For 27-year-old Hibi, testing the electoral waters for the first time, it is a do-or-die battle for the constituency, once represented by his father late George Eden in the Assembly and Lok Sabha.

    Scarcity of drinking water, power, lack of proper sewage system in the fast growing constituency are among the issues that Hibi would be highlight during his campaign. The advantage of youth and 'fresh face' was on his side and he would not be cowed down by the experienced Paul, Hibi told PTI. "This is not about individuals. This is a political fight. Anti-incumbency factor is strong, people are ready to vote out the LDF," he said.

    Sebastian Paul, a well known lawyer and media critic, had contested from the constituency six times from 1997-2004 and emerged victorious on four occasions. This is the seventh time he is trying his luck from the constituency. Paul had first entered the poll arena in the 1997 Lok Sabha bypoll in which he defeated Antony Issac of Congress. Though he was defeated in the subsequent election in 1998 against George Eden, he was elected the same year to the assembly from 1998-2001.

    He was a member of 13th Lok Sabha from 2003 to 2004 and 14th Lok Sabha from 2004-09. In the last Lok Sabha polls, LDF had put up Sindhu Joy against union minister K V Thomas. In the Assembly bypoll Dominic Presentation of UDF was elected against LDF's P N Seenulal. Latin Catholic votes are crucial in the constituency and both the main candidates are from the community.

    The BJP candidate is C G Rajagopal, who is also making his poll debut this time. There are 1,33,398 voters in the constituency, including 65,274 male and 68,124 female.