Kochi: The poll heat in Kerala's Thrikkakara has gone up with Congress alleging "conspiracy" behind picking Dr Jo Joseph as the LDF candidate. The Congress on Friday questioned the criteria that went into the selection Joseph a well-known cardiologist with a hospital run by the Syro-Malabar Church in Kochi even after a section party workers had started campaigning for K S Arunkumar, a member of the CPI(M) district committee.
The surprise candidature of Dr Joseph was announced on Thursday evening rather dramatically at the Lizzie Hospital in the presence of hospital manager, a priest of the Syro Malabar Church, and leading cardiologists, wearing their operation theatre dress. Soon after the candidate was announced, a section of political analysts started looking at it as CPM's bid to woo the voters belonging to the Syro-Malabar Church to win the seat, considered as a stronghold of the Congress-led UDF.
"You should find out the conspiracy behind the fielding of this candidate," senior Congress leader V D Satheesan told reporters in Kochi on Friday. The Congress leader, however, did not elaborate on the conspiracy.
Asked about the propaganda through social media that Joseph enjoys support of the Syro-Malabar Church, Satheesan said, "We are not commenting on that" but said that the factors considered by the CPI(M) for fielding him are coming out.
"Our candidate Uma Thomas, a true secularist, enjoys support of all sections of the society," he claimed.
Hitting back at Satheesan, CPI(M) leader and Kerala Minister P Rajeev said the Congress leader became scared after the Left fielded an efficient candidate in Thrikkakara.
"We have introduced a candidate who can win that constituency. That is the reason for such reactions," Rajeev told the media.
Meanwhile, the Syro-Malabar Church rejected reports that Cardinal George Alencherry and the church leadership had a role in determining the Left candidate.
In a statement, the Syro-Malabar Church Media Commission said there was no basis for the propaganda unleashed by certain vested interests.
The Church said voters in the Thrikkakara constituency, who have got clear socio-political awareness, will approach this by-election in a democratic manner.
The Congress-led UDF, to ensure its numbers in the assembly is not reduced, has fielded Uma Thomas, the widow of late party leader and MLA P T Thomas, as its nominee for the Thrikkakara seat, which fell vacant after the latter's demise in December last year.
As the ruling and opposition parties announced the candidates, the BJP and the AAP are also expected to announce their nominees soon for the May 31 bypoll.
(With inputs from agencies)