Kerala Polls: High drama in Puthuppally over speculations of Chandy shifting to Nemom constituency
Thiruvananthapuram, Mar 13: Amidst speculation that former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy will contest from Nemom in the April 6 Assembly polls,Puthuppally, his home constituency in Kottayam district, witnessed dramatic scenes on Saturday as a group of Congress workers staged protest near his house and made suicide threats.
Nemom constituency, a suburb located in Thiruvananthapuram district, is the lone seat of BJP in the Kerala Assembly.
A large number of party workers and followers including women gathered near his house since morning and raised slogans, saying they would not let their long-time MLA leave Puthuppally to contest in any other segment.
The two-time Chief Minister has been representing Puthupally in the state Assembly for the last 51 years since 1970s.
An emotional supporter even climbed atop the rooftop of his house and threatened to commit suicide, holding party flag in his hands.
''We will give our life, but not Chandy... he is our dearest leader... we will not let him go to Nemom,'' another Congress activist said.
Chandy, who got back home from Delhi this morning, was even waylaid by the supporters and appealed him not to switch to any other constituency.
The 77 years-old leader, who somehow managed to enter the house amidst the rush of party workers, seemed to be moved by the support showed by followers.
Senior leaders K C Joseph and Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan also reached Chandy's home by the time.
As the protests intensified, the leader assured the supporters that he would not leave Puthuppally to contest in Nemom.
''Candidates have been finalised in 81 constituencies. In the list, my name is given as the candidate in Puthupally.
Neither state nor the central leadership have asked me to contest from Nemom.
I completely understand and acknowledge the emotions of party workers and followers. There is no way to leave Puthupally,'' Chandy said.
However, he said discussions were sill on over the candidature in Nemom.
Speculations are high that Chandy, the veteran leader with a mass support base across the southern state, would be fielded in Nemom, the high profile constituency where a fierce three-corned fight is expected, in the upcoming polls.
A section of media also reported that that Chandy had consented to contest from Nemom, which was considered to be the reason for the emotional reaction of followers.
The names of Shashi Tharoor and K Muraleedharan, both members of parliament, were also said to have been discussed as possiblecandidates in Nemom, but the Congress leadership already made it clear that MPs would not be contesting in Assembly polls.
Wresting Nemom seat from the saffron party is a major challenge for both the traditional fronts-Congress-led UDF and the CPI(M)-headed LDF- as BJP had opened its maiden account in the state Assembly by winning this constituency.
As BJP leaders hail Nemom as the ''Gujarat of Kerala'' and the party's iron fortress, its a matter of pride for both the traditional fronts, who have been dominating the state's bipolar polity for so many decades, to satch it from the BJP- NDA.
Congress sources said by fielding a high profile leader like Chandy, the grand-old party can give a befitting reply to the CPI(M)'s allegation that the BJP and Congress were going hand-in-hand in many constituencies including Nemom.
If the party wins and it can wrest the lone seat from BJP, it would be a game-changer in the state politics, they added.
However, the Congress leadership is yet to make any formal announcement on the Nemom candidature.
Speculations were rife that the Congress high command was keen that either Chandy or Chennithala should be prepared to try their luck from Nemon seat.
The CPI(M) has already announced its former MLA, V Sivankutty as the candidate in Nemom.
There were also media reports that former Mizoram Governor, Kummanam Rajasekharan would be the BJP nominee there.
BJP veteran and former union minister, O Rajagopal had won Nemom in 2016 assembly polls by garnering 67,813 votes by defeating CPI(M)-LDF's V Sivankutty who secured 59,142 votes.
However, UDF candidate V Surendran Pillai (JD-S) could finish only in a distant third position with 13,860 votes.