In a rare move, the Congress in Kerala took less than 24 hours to decide on its candidate for the May 31 Thrikkakara bypoll. The bypoll was necessitated after the demise of 71-year-old P.T. Thomas on December 22, and the Congress took no time in deciding to give the ticket to his wife, Uma Thomas.
Very soon after her name was announced, she hit the campaign trail.
Uma called and sought the blessings of Congress veterans like A.K. Antony and Vayalar Ravi, both of whom are now past 80 years.
Thrikkakara constituency was carved out of the erstwhile Tripunithura Assembly constituency and the first Assembly poll was held in 2011. Since then the constituency has always been a traditional Congress bastion.
Of the three polls held so far, Thomas won an easy victory in 2016 and 2021 and here too, Uma appears to have the early edge. But when in power, the ruling CPI-M led Left Democratic Front are no pushovers on account of their money power and strong organisational strengths.
However, estranged Congress veteran, former Ernakulam Lok Sabha member and Union Minister K.V. Thomas, presently seen as a persona-non grata by the party for breaching discipline when he attended the 23rd CPI-M Party Congress at Kannur, appears to be a prize catch of the CPI-M.
New LDF convenor E.P. Jayarajan, who has now taken charge of the entire poll operations at Thrikkakara said Thomas is a seasoned politician and his attitude was very clear “which stands for development, the hashtag of the Left".
“His statement tells everything and now let us wait. We will welcome all those who speak for development," said Jayarajan.
But, Uma is confident and begins her campaign on Wednesday from the tomb of Thomas at Idukki. She also called on the Idukki Catholic bishop. She said she was very hopeful that Thomas will pitch for her as he has been a well-wisher of hers and of her late husband.
“Thomas Mashu (Sir) has always been a well-wisher of our family and am sure he will hold us close and will not do otherwise," said Uma.
K.V. Thomas on Wednesday, however, said, “During elections personal relations do not matter and I will give more importance to development politics in an election," said Thomas.
The CPI-M in the past three polls held they had fielded party fellow travellers, but this time since it’s a fight to finish, they are zeroing down to party members who have a strong base in the district. In most likelihood, they are likely to select K.S. Arunkumar, a top youth wing leader of the CPI-M and a popular face on TV debates.
The BJP, which finished third on all the previous occasions, is in a huddle to finalise their candidate, while AAP and Twenty20 — a party which has a bit of roots in the district — has decided to announce a joint candidate, making Thrikkakara bypoll a four-cornered political battle, another rarity in Kerala.