Will Congress snub to KV Thomas over LS ticket cost the party?

MLA Hibi Eden, the Congress candidate from Ernakulam, said KV Thomas will be a part of his poll campaigns.
Will Congress snub to KV Thomas over LS ticket cost the party?
Will Congress snub to KV Thomas over LS ticket cost the party?
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Taken aback by the candidate list of the Congress, which gave candidature to MLA Hibi Eden in Ernakulam constituency of Kerala, sitting MP and Congress veteran KV Thomas has expressed ‘shock’ over the decision. KV Thomas, the sitting MP from Ernakulam constituency, said that he is in ‘pain and shock’ over the decision, reported The New Indian Express.

“I had spoken to many party veterans but none of them hinted about my name being excluded from the candidate list,” KV Thomas told the media, in Delhi, on Sunday. Thomas also added that he has no hard feelings for anyone in the party.

Thomas, a seven-time MP, also said that he was not part of any ‘group’ within the party and that on examining the candidate list, people can understand on what basis seats have been allotted, reported The Hindu. “I have not done anything wrong. I have always carried on the duty that the party had bestowed upon me from time to time. So this decision has, thus, saddened me beyond words,” said the 72-year-old leader, who is considered close to UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi.

Why was Thomas excluded?

For the supporters of Thomas, who had started campaigning even before Congress published its final candidate list, the news that Hibi Eden will contest from the Ernakulam constituency has come as a shocker.

Posters, appealing to cast vote for the sitting MP, had appeared in many areas of west Kochi, comprising Fort Kochi, Mattancherry, Palluruthy, Kumbalangi and Edakochi. Being a native of the area, Thomas also has a grasp over the Latin Catholic voters in the region.

“It was shocking to hear that he was not the candidate,” Sivadathan MP, former panchayat president of Kumbalangi, told TNM. “For the people of Kumbalangi, Thomas mash (professor) is somebody who changed the face of this village. He is responsible for building the brand of 'model tourism village' for Kumabalangi. We never thought somebody else would take the role of Thomas mash. For us, he was the obvious candidate of Congress. The workers here had already started their campaigning works," he said. Although disappointed with Thomas’ exclusion, Sivadathan said they will nevertheless support the party.

But according to political observers, there was a growing discontent towards KV Thomas among the young leaders in the party. The fact that he had been contesting from the constituency without giving a chance to the growing leaders was believed to be the major reason for the discontent.

Will Hibi Eden defend Thomas’ bastion?

In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, it was KV Thomas who helped UDF secure the Ernakulam constituency. He had won by a margin of 10.23%. While the Congress secured the seat with 41.59% votes, the LDF only received 31.36% votes.

Left Democratic Front (LDF) had deployed an independent candidate, retired IAS officer Christy Fernandez, without giving chance to its party workers, which was cited as the main reason for the Left’s defeat in the last Lok Sabha election. Now, however, the party members and sympathisers have welcomed the candidature of P Rajeev, the former CPI(M) Ernakulam district secretary and former member of parliament.

Some political observers see the possibilities of flow of votes from Thomas bastion to P Rajeev, who is the candidate of CPI(M). Some also opine that CPI(M) candidate P Rajeev and Hibi Eden of Congress will stage a tight fight in the constituency.

“Considering his public acceptance among the youth of the constituency, Hibi Eden has an edge over P Rajeev. But one has to wait and watch if, in the coming days, Thomas’ displeasure for denying him candidature will have any effect on the young leader,” said a political veteran, who did not wish to be named.   

Meanwhile, Hibi Eden on Saturday hailed the contributions made by KV Thomas to the party and constituency. “As a senior leader, he will be a part of my poll campaign,” said Hibi. He also said the party would probably give the veteran leader a more responsible duty.

Can BJP woo Thomas?

According to some reports, the BJP is trying to get the Congress veteran on board. However, when the media on Sunday asked Thomas if the BJP had approached him for matters associated with the elections, he refuted the reports and said that that he has good friends in BJP. “I have friends across all parties and I maintain a good relationship with them,” he added.

Thomas also said that he will be active in politics and will work with the people. “I have started a lot of projects in Ernakulam. I can’t just go away, leaving all of them behind,” said Thomas.

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