The campaign for three assembly by-elections got underway in Kerala with the Congress trying to consolidate the gains it made in the May 2009 Lok Sabha polls, while the CPI(M) led ruling LDF is pulling out all stops to regain lost ground.
The LDF suffered one of its worst reverses in the Lok Sabha polls, with Congress-led UDF winning 16 of 20 seats.
The electoral picture in the three segments-- Kannur, Ernakulam and Alappuzha-- became clear last night after the Congress announced its candidates.
All three seats were held by Congress in the assembly. The by-polls were caused by resignation of the respective MLAs, following their election to the Lok Sabha.
A surprise choice of the Congress was A P Abdullakutty, a two-time CPI(M) MP from Kannur,who was expelled from the party on the eve of the Lok Sabha poll for openly defying its policies, which included his praise of the development model of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
Though there was intitial resistance from local leaders to the choice, the state leadershiop convinced the high command that he was the best candidate to deal another blow to CPI-M in Kannur, where it was humbled in the Lok Sabha polls.
"I know it is a huge responsibility the party has put on me. I am confident I will be able to live up to the expecations of the leaders", Abdullakutty told reporters in Kannur.