The memory of Congress’ Kerala legislator P.T. Thomas, who passed away last week, will persist in the minds of many, but electoral politics has its own compulsions and discussions on the bypoll to ensue have already begun.
A four time legislator, Thomas, 71, had easy victories from Thrikkakara Assembly constituency in Ernakulam district in both the 2016 and 2021, even when the going was found to be tough for the Congress-led UDF in the latter, with the CPI-M led Left front on a sound footing.
At the 2016 polls Thomas defeated veteran Sebastian Paul of the Left with a margin of 11,966 votes and five years later increased his victory margin to 14,329 votes.
And now the by-elections, in all likelihood, next year, will certainly be a battle where Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan would like to prove that he continues to be the last and final word in Left politics. On the other hand, the new Congress leadership would like to showcase its own clout too.
A political analyst noted that said Thrikkakara constituency came into being in 2011, after carving out major places that was part of the erstwhile Tripunithura assembly constituency, that has been a Congress bastion and continues to be so.
“Vijayan has nothing to lose and if by any chance he is able to win, then Vijayan’s stock will rise hugely. I feel this poll battle as and when it takes place will be more crucial for the new Congress state leadership than Vijayan because if the Left looses, the stock answer that would be given by Vijayan and others would be, this has always been a place where the Congress has an edge,” said the analyst, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
For the new Congress leadership comprising of state chief K.Sudhakaran and Leader of Opposition V.D. Satheesan, its imperative that they not only put a winning candidate but also increase the margin. Already the name of Thomas’ widow, Uma Thomas has started to do the rounds.
Uma Thomas was in politics while a student, and being the better half of Thomas for over three decades, she is no newcomer to the political game.
“The Congress has the habit of fielding family members, when a sitting legislator of theirs passes away. Now all eyes are on Uma and if she agrees to stand, then for the now beleaguered Congress which continues its factional wars, half the battle is won… it will certainly be in the pole position,” added the analyst.
Hence Vijayan, who is presently caught in quite a few issues like the controversial K-Rail project, Mullaperiyar dam issue and other issues, will use this chance to turn the tables against the Congress and field a very strong candidate so as to wrest the seat.