Babu had resigned as the excise minister in the wake of a Vigilance court directive to file an FIR against him in the bar bribery case

K Babu and M Swaraj slog it out in Tripunithura with BJP and an independent candidate too in the offing
news Kerala Polls 2016 Monday, April 25, 2016 - 18:29

Congress leader K Babu who had a controversial stint as state excise minister and CPI(M) leader M Swaraj are waging a tough battle for the Tripunithura assembly constituency in Ernakulam district, with Kerala all set for the polls on May 16.

While Babu who has been the sitting MLA here since 1991 insists that the bar bribery charges levelled against him are a 'deliberate political conspiracy by the CPI(M)' to tarnish his image, Swaraj claims that 'corruption' is the major poll issue in the constituency.

"Bar owners who were forced to close down their bars due to the widely hailed liquor policy of the UDF government are pumping money to defeat me in the elections. The people of Tripunithura will reject all such false propaganda against me. I am confident about my victory," says 64-year-old Babu, who won the 2011 elections by a margin of 15,778 votes against his nearest CPI(M) rival C M Dinesh Mani.

Babu had resigned as the excise minister on January 23 this year in the wake of a Vigilance court directive to file an FIR against him in the bar bribery case. He returned to the Oommen Chandy cabinet on February 1 after the Kerala High Court stayed the order.

The resignation of Babu -a close confidante of Chandy- had rattled the UDF government. The Working President of Kerala Bar Owners Association Biju Ramesh had alleged Babu was given Rs 10 crores as bribe for renewal of licenses of liquor bars, a charge rubbished by the Congress leader.

36-year old Swaraj however does not think so:"People of Tripunithura have already taken a decision against the Congress leader who earned a bad name during his controversial stint as Excise Minister. They will definitely vote for me to ensure a clean and transparent LDF government in the state.”

Swaraj -the state secretary of Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI)- too is confident of an upset victory over the sitting MLA. CPI(M) district secretary P Rajeev now prefers to view Tripunithura as the capital of Kerala's anti-corruption movement".

"Babu's candidature was even opposed by KPCC president V M Sudheeran on corruption grounds. People are definitely aware of this. We have hence fielded our energetic youth leader to take on Babu," Rajeev shares.

The BJP too is testing its electoral prospects in this Hindu dominated constituency by fielding noted writer and retired college professor Thuravoor Viswambharan.

To test political waters here is yet another candidate Padmini D Nettoor- a daily wage traffic warden- who will face the elections as an independent candidate. The Hindu reports her calling this a fight not to win but to register the protest of the voiceless and the deprived.

Constant harassment by authorities and relentless injustice meted out to her has apparently prompted her to launch the Janakeeya Neethi Vedhi in January this year which provides her the platform to contest these elections.


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