Shifting loyalties with a tilt towards Congress

UDF camp in Angamaly remains buoyant after a good show in local body polls

The Angamaly Assembly segment has shown no permanent leniency to any particular political front even though the United Democratic Front (UDF) enjoyed an edge over the Left Democratic Front (LDF) for the last five-and-a-half decades.

The constituency had earned a name for giving candidates of both the fronts multiple chances to represent it in the Legislative Assembly. It was A.P. Kurien of the CPI(M) who kick-started the trend after he remained unbeaten for four consecutive terms since 1967.

M.V. Mani of the Kerala Congress bucked the winning streak by defeating Mr. Kurien in 1982. He served two terms before tasting defeat in 1991. P.J. Joy of the Congress had won the seat by 7,598 votes after Mr. Mani left the Kerala Congress (Mani) group to join hands with P.J. Joseph, who was then an LDF ally. Mr. Joy’s attempt to secure the fourth consecutive win was snapped by Jose Thettayil of the Janata Dal (S) in 2006.

Mr. Thettayil served two consecutive terms before losing out a chance to contest again in 2016 after getting involved in an alleged sexual harassment case. Roji M. John of the Congress defeated Benny Moonjely of the Janat Dal (S) by 9,184 votes in 2016 to regain control over the constituency.

The Kerala Congress (Joseph) and the Janata Dal (S) had fielded its candidates under the LDF since 1991. The Congress, which had given the segment to its ally Kerala Congress (Jacob) in 2011, took it back in 2016 and decided to field Mr. Roji John, who was then the national president of the National Students’ Union of India (NSUI). The political positions adopted by the Syrian Christians and the rebel menace figure among the wide range of factors that might influence the electoral fortunes of both the key fronts this time.

The UDF camp appeared buoyant after the win in the civic body elections in which it wrested back power in the Angamaly Municipality and Parakkadavu, Kalady, Malayatoor and Thuravoor panchayats. Benny Behanan of the Congress, who won the Chalakudy Lok Sabha seat in 2019, had also earned a lead of 27,800 in Angamaly. However, the Congress remains cautious amid reports that Mr. Jose Thettayil will be back as the LDF candidate this time recalling the developmental works he had initiated between 2006 and 2016. Mr. Roji John is likely to be the Congress candidate for the second time.

The BJP, which failed to make any impact in the previous elections, has plans to expand its presence after it opened its account in the municipality by winning two wards in the recent local body polls.

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