The presence of Uma Thomas, wife of the late Congress legislator P T Thomas, at a protest event in Kochi has intensified speculations over the party's move to field her in the impending Thrikkakara assembly by-election.
Uma on Friday attended a protest meet organised by 'Friends of PT' seeking justice for the actress who was abducted and sexually assaulted by a gang in February 2017. The re-investigation into the case in which, popular actor Dileep is an accused, is in the final stage. Actor Raveendran, who was a close friend of Thomas, led the protest. It was Thomas' intervention soon after he was alerted about the crime that brought it to the limelight.
This is the first time Uma attended a public event after Thomas, who represented Thrikkakara seat, died on December 22 last year at 71. Political parties are expecting announcement of the bypoll anytime now. Soon after Thomas' unexpected death, there have been speculations that the Congress is likely to field Uma to retain the seat. Both Uma and the party have been silent on the matter so far.
"I don't know anything as these things are decided by the party high command. If I come to know of anything I will let the media know about it," Uma told reporters at the protest venue and sped away.
Uma's presence at the venue and her response were, however, seen as a sign of her willingness to enter public life by political observers. Earlier this month, state Congress president K Sudhakaran, Leader of the Opposition V D Satheesan and AICC general secretary K C Venugopal had visited Uma at her home. The leaders said it was only a personal visit.
Congress leadership, however, told Onmanorama that Uma attended the event as it was organised by Thomas' close friends and there was no political decision behind that.
“The party has not decided on who should be the candidate in Thrikkakara. We are confident that we will win the bypoll comfortably, no matter who the candidate is,” District Congress Committee president Mohammed Shiyas said.
Thomas had one term in the Lok Sabha and was a four-time legislator.
In 2016 and 2021 Thomas won easily from Thrikkakara assembly constituency. In the 2016 polls Thomas defeated veteran Sebastian Paul of the Left with a margin of 11,966 votes and five years later Thomas increased his victory margin to 14,329 votes. On both occasions there was a wave in favour of the CPM-led Left front.
For Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan who got a second term, the first in Kerala for any CPI-M chief minister, the by-election is going to be an acid test. They received a shot in the arm recently when the son of a local top Indian Union Muslim League leader, also the vice-chairman of the Thrikkakara municipality, was involved in a gold smuggling case which they are going to raise during election time.
The IUML is the second biggest ally of the Congress-led UDF.
(With inputs from IANS)