Kottayam: Who will step into the shoes of Kerala Congress leader C F Thomas in Changanassery? The Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) and the CPM-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) are making the moves eyeing the Changanassery constituency, which had been represented by C F Thomas since 1980. Now, the focus of the Congress, the CPM and the Kerala Congress factions is on the Changanassery Assembly seat. The Changanassery seat will also be a point of discussion for the entry of Kerala Congress (M) into the LDF fold.
As there are no chances of a bypoll, the political parties are heaving a sigh of relief as the seat-sharing discussions have to be held only for the Assembly elections due in May 2021. A decision on Changanassery seat will be taken along with Pala, Kanjirappally and Kuttanad constituencies, where the Kerala Congress factions have a strong hold.
Will Congress contest?
C F Thomas had been representing the Changanassery constituency in the Kerala Legislative Assembly for the past 40 years and the Congress wants to retain the seat at any cost. The LDF is also eyeing to pocket the seat riding on the absence of a towering personality such as C F Thomas, who stood by the P J Joseph faction of the Kerala Congress that is part of the UDF. The names doing the rounds as candidates in the P J Joseph faction are that of Sajan Francis, brother of C F Thomas and Changanassery municipality chairman and V J Laly. It is learnt that C F Thomas had informed both his party and the UDF about his successor and that will be crucial while taking a call on the candidacy.
There are suggestions that the Congress, which has won the Changanassery seat only once, should toss the hat in the ring in the next Assembly polls. In the Congress circles, the names of former minister and Irikkur MLA K C Joseph, DCC president Joshy Philip and UDF convenor Josey Sebastian are being discussed.
The Jose factor for LDF
C F Thomas was a strong loyalist of Kerala Congress (M) founder K M Mani and for that very reason the Changanassery seat is dear to the party. The Jose K Mani faction of the Kerala Congress is considering the candidacies of Job Michael and Dr Shajo Sebastian Kandakudy, both party state committee members. The name of another person, who is not part of the Changanassery constituency, is also under consideration.
The CPM’s decision rests on the entry of the Jose faction to the LDF fold. The CPM had tested the political waters of Changanassery in different ways such as fighting elections on own party symbol and fielding an independent candidate. The seat was handed over to the Kerala Congress (Democratic), which is part of the LDF, in 2016.
If the Jose faction becomes part of the LDF alliance, the chances of the CPM giving the Changanassery seat to it is pretty high. The CPM is also considering giving the Kanjirappally Assembly constituency to the Jose faction and Changanassery to the CPI, which had tasted success twice there. But CPI state council member V B Binu said that the party was of the opinion that there was no need to swap the Kanjirappally seat for Changanassery. If the CPM gets the Changanassery seat, an appropriate candidate, who has the support of all, would be chosen.
Bid to ride on CF legacy
The P J Joseph and the Jose factions are trying hard to get the backing of C F Thomas supporters. The leaders of both factions participated in the funeral service of C F Thomas. There is a political colour to the Jose faction’s move to erect boards with CF Thomas photos in Changanassery.