Twenty20-AAP not to support any front in Thrikkakara bypoll

Twenty20 chief coordinator Sabu M Jacob. FILE PHOTO

The newly formed Twenty20-Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) alliance in Kerala will not support any of the three fronts contesting the Thrikkakara assembly bypoll slated for May 31.

The People's Welfare Alliance (PWA), which was recently launched by AAP supremo Arvind Kejriwal and Twenty20 chief Sabu M Jacob, announced its decision at a press meet at Kizhakkambalam on Sunday.

Claiming that the PWA has already won the bypoll even without fielding a candidate, the alliance urged its followers to exercise their franchise after looking keenly at the current socio-political situation in Kerala.

“Each of us should be able to decide whom should we vote for after analysing the current political and social situations in Kerala. We are sure that all those supporting the Twenty20-AAP alliance are politically aware to make that decision. Democracy will be strengthened only when an individual exercises their franchise without being influenced or tempted by money or alcohol. We are requesting all of you to cast your votes judiciously,” Jacob read out from a statement signed by him and AAP state convener P C Syriac.

They urged their supporters to go to the polling station and cast their votes even if it's raining that day.

Asked if the statement was a call to cast the vote according to a voter's conscience, Jacob said usages like 'conscience votes' and 'equidistant policy' were part of the terminologies associated with traditional political parties. “Both Twenty20 and AAP are different from the traditional political parties,” he said.

The Twenty20 party, the political arm of the Kizhakkambalam-based corporate Kitex Group, had polled a little over 10 per cent of votes in Thrikkakara constituency in the 2021 assembly polls. The party, which is ruling four panchayats, had polled 14 per cent of votes from eight constituencies in Ernakulam district.

Recently, Jacob had announced that his Twenty20 and AAP would be fielding a common candidate in the bypoll, necessitated by the death of Congress legislator P T Thomas. The two parties, however, backed off the move saying the outcome of the bypoll would have little impact on state's prospects. The two parties said their aim was to focus on the bigger picture that is the state polls. 

Kejriwal announced the formation of the fourth front in Kerala -- the People's Welfare Alliance – on May 15 on the occasion of Twenty20's tenth anniversary. It is estimated that 50,000-odd people attended the rally held at Kizhakkambalam, the headquarters of Jacob's Kitex Group and Twenty20. 

Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal with Twenty20 chief coordinator Sabu M Jacob at Kizhakkambalam in Ernakulam on Sunday. Photo: Facebook/ @AAPKerala

Twenty20 is essentially a corporate-backed party which is often accused of using its promoter's corporate social responsibility funds to make political gains in the name of welfare. Both the UDF and the LDF have raised a series of allegations against it in the past in terms of its way of functioning and its ideology or lack of one. 

However, facing the first bypoll in the second Pinarayi Vijayan government's term, all those allegations have been swept aside. Congress leaders including KPCC president K Sudhakaran have publicly urged the support of the Twenty20, while CPM state secretariat member M Swaraj went to the extend of saying the newly formed alliance was ideologically leaned towards the Left front. He reasoned that the Twenty20-AAP combine's anti-corruption stance and the encouragement of professionals coming to politics were in tune with the Left front's stances. 

Jacob has been highly critical of the LDF government of late, especially after a series of raids at his company that led to a major controversy with the group calling off a multi-crore project it had proposed to start in Kerala. He has been vocally slamming the Left government's aggressive push for the SilverLine semi high-speed rail project. The murder of Deepu, a Twenty20 worker at Kizhakkamabalam allegedly by CPM men, has also provoked him. His repeated statements against the SilverLine project and  political murders are interpreted as a call to vote against the CPM. 

The LDF has fielded noted cardiologist Dr Jo Joseph in the bypoll against Congress' Uma Thomas. A N Radhakrishnan is the BJP candidate.

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