Kerala: 'David Vs Goliath' fight at Puthupally again after five years
Kottayam, March 8, 2021
After a gap of five years, with the election picture getting clearer, it is certain that the April 6 assembly polls would see a return of the David Vs Goliath poll battle which was witnessed in 2016 in Puthupally assembly constituency in Kottayam district.
Pitted against each other for the second time in a row is 77-year-old Oommen Chandy, a two-time former Congress Chief Minister and the biggest crowd puller in Kerala politics, as he takes on 30-year-old Jaik C. Thomas of the CPI-M, who began his political career as a student leader of the Students Federation of India.
Both these candidates have started their election campaign with Thomas reminding the people that, in Tamil Nadu, the giant in state politics -- K. Kamaraj -- was defeated in an assembly election by a college student.
But Chandy knows his constituency like the back of his hand and many of the voters by their first name. Asked about the elections and his rival, he said with his trademark smile, "I generally don't say anything about my opponent."
In the 2016 assembly polls, Chandy romped home with a margin of 27,092 votes, down from the 33,255 margin that he had in the 2011 polls against CPI-M candidate Suja Susan George.
Chandy is returning to his Puthupally constituency, seeking his 12th consecutive win, which first began way back in 1970 when he won his debut election. Since then his electorate has not let him down and not many have any doubt of what the outcome would be this time also.
In October last year, Chandy entered the record books by becoming the first Congress legislator in Kerala to have completed 50 years as a legislator on the trot.
This was, however, slightly less than the record of the late K. M. Mani of the Kerala Congress (M) whose uninterrupted run began in 1967 from Pala constituency in Kottayam district and only came to a halt when he passed away in 2019.
The coming days and weeks will see more political activity at Puthupally. With Chandy being the biggest star in Congress politics, it remains to be seen which stars from the Left will descend on the constituency to see if they can checkmate "Kunjoonju", as he is known to many of his voters.