Poll scene hots up at Gandhi Nagar in Kochi

Death of CPI(M)’s K.K. Sivan warranted bypoll in the division

With major political parties identifying their candidates, the bypoll scene in the Gandhi Nagar division of the Kochi Corporation is hotting up.

The division will go for polls on December 7 along with a few other local bodies in the State. The State Election Commission had announced the poll dates the other day.

It was the death of CPI(M) councillor K.K. Sivan that warranted the bypoll in the division, which was once considered a stronghold of the LDF.

The Congress has entered the fray much ahead of its rivals in the division by fielding P.D. Martin, who had tasted defeat at the hands of Sivan last time.

Mr. Martin had earlier served as chairperson of the welfare standing committee of the Kochi Corporation when the civic body was governed by the Congress.

Though LDF candidates had earlier won in the division with respectable margins, the last election witnessed Mr. Sivan scrape through with a margin of just 115 votes. It was the presence of rebels and Independent candidates and some non-political formations, believe the UDF sources, that let the Congress candidate down.

Bindu Sivan, wife of the deceased councillor, is the party candidate in the division. She had earlier served as president of the Thiruvankulam village panchayat.

The Left Front, which had earlier decided to field former councillor Sojan Antony in the division had to withdraw him, as he developed some ailments. Ill-health prevented Mr. Antony from actively campaigning in the constituency. Hence, the front was forced to reconsider its decision to field him, said a senior LDF functionary in the district.

P.G. Manojkumar, the Ernakulam Assembly constituency president of the BJP, is the NDA candidate in the division.

The last date for filing nominations is November 19.

Though the poll outcome may not have a bearing on the civic administration, the win in the division is politically significant for all the three key contestants.

The ruling LDF has the backing of 36 councillors, including four Independent candidates in the 74-member council. The UDF enjoys the support of 32 councillors, including the backing of M.H.M. Ashraf, the CPI(M) councillor, who parted ways with the organisation.

The strength of the BJP has been reduced to four following the death of Mini R. Menon, who represented the Ernakulam South division.

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