Even when major political fronts in Kerala are yet to finalise candidates for the April 6 assembly polls, a civic movement in Kochi has declared candidates in three assembly constituencies, hoping to sway the electorate with its preparedness and novel vision.
V4 People Party, which contested as V4 Kochi in the local body elections, is confident of winning the assembly elections – a confidence which stems from the impressive performance in the Kochi Corporation polls a couple of months ago.
However, major political parties just write them off.
V4 People has declared candidates in Kochi, Ernakulam and Thrikkakkara assembly constituencies.
In Kochi, party founder Nipun Cheriyan will contest. Sujith Sukumaran, a 43-year-old techie, is the candidate in Ernakulam while Riyas Yusuff, 33, a UPSC trainer, will seek the mandate from Thrikkakkara seat.
Ernakulam and Thrikkakkara are represented by T J Vinod and P T Thomas of the Congress, while the Kochi legislator is CPM's K J Maxi.
“We are fighting the elections to win. We are sure that our vote share will increase at least 10 fold compared to the local body results,” Cheriyan told Onmanorama on Tuesday after declaring the candidates.
Asked which party would be more affected by their candidature, Cheriyan said, “Both the LDF and UDF will be affected as we win the constituencies they are hoping to win.”
His argument is that the voters not aligned to any political parties and those who are fed up with the mainstream politics would rally behind a movement like V4 People as they are yearning for a change.
V4 People is registering the outfit as a political party and more candidates will be announced in the coming days, Cheriyan said.
V4 had polled over 20,000 votes in Kochi Corporation when it contested from over 50 of the 74 seats. Though it could not win any ward, it played spoilsport to both the LDF and UDF in several places.
They harmed the chances of the UDF in wards like Perumanoor, Ravipuram, Chakkaraparambu and Ponnurunni. To put the situation in perspective, V4 polled 398 votes in Perumanoor where the victory margin was just 12 votes. In Ravipuram, V4 scored 302 votes while the victory margin was 29. In Ponnurunni victory margin was 113 while 401 votes went to the V4's kitty.
In Palarivattom, Nasrathu and Ayyappankavu, V4 candidates finished second.
Soon after the local body results came, V4 grabbed headlines as Cheriyan along with two others were arrested and remanded for allegedly opening the Vyttila flyover, before it was formally inaugurated. The collective had in fact proclaimed it would throw the bridge open to the public as the government was delaying the inauguration for scoring political points even after the work on the flyover were completed.
Cheriyan said the arrest has increased the public's support to he movement.
V4 has been staging a series of protests in various parts of Kochi on issues like fuel price hike, deep-sea fishing controversy and backdoor appointments to government posts. It also seeks a solution to Kochi's long-pending issues like pollution, waterlogging and traffic woes.
Asked about the possible challenges posed by V4, Thrikkakara MLA P T Thomas refused to comment saying he would wait for a clear picture to emerge. However, he said the political situation in Thrikkakara and all over Kerala was in favour of the UDF.
The Congress district leadership is of the view that V4 will not have any significant role in the elections.
What has Nipun Cherian done for the people. He opened the Vyttila flyover and ran away like a coward. When we stage a protest, we will be amid the people, no matter what comes. We will expose him during the campaign,” a district Congress leader told Onmanorama.
Gone are the days when political parties can ignore civic movements with contempt, thanks to the Kizhakkambalam Twenty-20 model. Twenty-20, a corporate sponsored non-profit, emerged winners in Kizhakkambalam panchayat first in 2015.
In 2020, the outfit has not only retained Kizhakkamabalam, but won three more panchayats – Mazhuvannoor, Kunnathunadu and Aikkaranadu.
Following the footsteps of the Kizhakkambalam model, the people of the coastal village of Chellanam formed a similar outfit and contested the local body polls. The outfit, Chellanam 20/20 won eight out of the 21 seats in Chellanam panchayat.