PC Vishnunath sinks Mercykutty Amma in Kundara, only minister in fray to suffer defeat

PC Vishnunath

Congress's P C Vishnunath, a late entrant into the fray, has trounced Kerala fisheries minister J Mercykutty Amma by 5097 votes in what can be considered the upset of the election. Mercykutty Amma's fate is also tragic as she was the only minister who had to bear the brunt of the battery of charges hurled by the opposition.

Kundara was the minister's lair, a place from where she had won thrice, in 1987, 1996 and 2016. And in 2016, she had won by a margin of over 30,000 votes, doubling the lead gained by CPM's M A Baby in the 2011 elections. This time, the EMCC deep-sea fishing deal, turned out to be her undoing. 

It was said the decision would open Kerala's deep seas to multinationals for the first time, affecting the livelihoods of the coastal folk. Nonetheless, it also looks like she had suffered for no fault of hers as the deal was inked by the Industries Department under E P Jayarajan. It was clear she was in the dark about the deal.

But the minister's combative but confusing responses to the issue gave the impression that she had something to hide. Adding to her troubles, the government's communicator-in-chief Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan did not seem eager to come to her aid. He largely ignored questions about the deal, leaving the minister to tidy up the mess. 

A highly articulate P C Vishnunath then found the situation quite fertile to exploit the deep-sea trawling deal for all it was worth.

Kundara’s political waters are muddied enough to fish
J Mercykutty Amma, PC Vishnunath, Vanaja Vidyadharan

The bigger irony is, the deep sea deal had not influenced voting behaviour in any of the coastal areas in Kerala. The issue had damaged the LDF only in Kundara, a non-coastal region. Kollam too was affected but not in any big way to prevent film actor Mukesh's victory. It also did not help that as fisheries minister, Mercykutty Amma could not solve the crisis in the cashew industry. Kundara has perhaps the largest concentration of cashew workers in Kerala.

Kundara had generally alternated between the UDF and the LDF, but the constituency had shut its doors to the UDF since 2006.

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