Thiruvananthapuram: Ending days of uncertainty over its candidate for the May 31 Thrikkakara bypoll, the CPM has sprang a surprise by fielding yet another medical practitioner to win the constituency.
By nominating Dr Jo Joseph, CPM has once again admitted, albeit indirectly, that it will have to continue its community-independent experiments in Ernakulam. The party had fielded an independent candidate, Dr J Jacob, in Thrikkakara in 2021.
The by-election was necessitated by the demise of the sitting MLA P T Thomas of the Congress.
The Dr J Jacob experiment, however, did not augur well for the LDF. The independent candidate could not win even the traditional CPM votes, since as the party later felt, he had not contested under its electoral symbol. This realization has made the CPM field Dr Jo Jacob under its symbol.
Additionally, the party is also eyeing the votes of the educated voters--who form a significant number--in the constituency, besides hoping to make community equations favourable. These aspects have made the CPM spring a surprise by nominating Dr Joseph, a well-known cardiologist.
The Congress fielding Uma Thomas to retain the constituency, too, made the CPM decide to opt for a candidate from the Christian community. It was also decided to find a candidate from the Syro-Malabar Church, which has a significant clout in Thrikkakara.
The CPM zeroed-in on Dr Joseph since it could not find anyone who met the community criteria within the party. It has been said that the party had approached another prominent colleague of Dr Joseph.
The election commission, scheduled to be inaugurated by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, will also see rival Congress leader K V Thomas's formal entry into Left politics.
The CPM machinery has been going full steam preparing the ground for posing a strong challenge to UDF in Congress's 'safe' constituency. E P Jayarajan, LDF convener and CPM central committee member is in charge of supervising the campaign. He will be backed by state secretariat members P Rajeeve and M Swaraj.
Senior leaders, ministers and secretariat members will focus on Thrikkakara in the coming days. The party has already directed its ministers to be in the constituency on all days except when their presence is required to look into administrative matters.
The CPM had experimented with another medical practitioner earlier. The party pitted Dr K S Manoj against senior Congress leader V M Sudheeran in Alappuzha in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. Dr Manoj turned out to be a giant killer when he defeated Sudheeran, but the physician-politician later denounced the CPM and joined the Congress.
Not the Church's candidate
Kochi: Soon after the CPM announced his candidature, Dr Jo Joseph met the media at Lisie Hospital here along with his colleagues.
Exuding confidence that he would win the bypoll, the cardiologist said if Pala, considered to be the home turf of Kerala Congress (M), could think differently, Thrikkakara, too, would elect a non-UDF candidate.
UDF's Mani C Kappen had defeated Jose J Mani of the LDF in Pala in 2021.
Denying that he is not a nominee of any particular community, the 43-year-old cardiologist said his pro-Left activities might have led to his candidature.
Dr Joseph said though he has been associated with the Left, he was not a party member. "I have been attending party programmes, and was active in the poll campaign in 2021. Besides, I am part of the LDF arm in the health sector," he said.
The physician added that stands taken on issues, too, define one's politics.
He denied being the representative of any particular community, but added that the backing of all, irrespective of other considerations, was necessary in an election. "Working in a Church-run institution does not make me its candidate, and the Church had not interfered to ensure my candidature," he said.
Dr Joseph supported the controversial SilverLine project, saying it was suitable for Kerala's infrastructure development.
Born to the late K V Joseph and Elikkutty of Kalappurackal Parambil in Poonjar, Dr Joseph took his MBBS degree from Kottayam Medical College before pursuing MD from SCB Medical College in Cuttack. He took his DM in Cardiology from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi.
Dr Joseph's wife Dr Daya Pascal is a psychiatrist at the Mental Health Centre in Thrissur.