Poonjar set to witness four-cornered battle again

If Pala remains the focal point of the ongoing seat-sharing negotiations in Kottayam, Poonjar โ€” a constituency in its neighbourhood โ€” looks to grab all the attention once the stage is set for electioneering.

With the United Democratic Front (UDF) shelving an earlier proposal to take the Kerala Janapaksham (Secular) on board, the outfit led by P.C. George, MLA, has now declared its plan to go it alone in the constituency. Accordingly, Mr. George will be contesting from the seat once again, making it a gritty four-way fight once again.

โ€˜UDF not confidentโ€™

โ€œIt seems even the UDF is not confident of winning a majority in the Assembly this time and hence looks to experiment with seats like Poonjar by fielding a Congress candidate. In this context, I have decided to contest under the party symbol of KJ(S),โ€ Mr. George said.

Though the UDF leadership had prevailed on its plan to support the regional outfit from outside, the talks fell through mid-way following objection raised by a section of the Congress workers and the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML). A proposal by the UDF that Mr. George, who had won the previous election with a majority of 27,821 votes, be replaced with his son as the candidate, cut no ice with the Janapaksham leadership either.

The collapse of negotiations with the Janapaksham, meanwhile, is likely to trigger a wrangling of sorts within the UDF over the seat, which remains open with the exit of the Kerala Congress (M) led by Jose K. Mani. While the Congress looks keen to take over the seat, the Kerala Congress led by P.J. Joseph too has asserted its natural claim over the seat, besides the IUML that commands a significant presence in Erattupetta and Erumeli regions.

โ€œAn array of leaders from the Congress and the Joseph group are aspiring for the seat and are pressing ahead with their demand,โ€ confirmed a senior UDF leader.

At the same time, the Mani group is most likely to field a candidate from the seat on behalf of the Left Democratic Front. Among the names being considered by the party include former district panchayat president Sebastian Kulathungal and KC(M) leader Lopez Mathew.

The Bharatiya Janatha Party, meanwhile, appears keen on taking over the seat from its constituent Bharat Dharma Jana Sena (BDJS), which fielded a candidate here in 2015.

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