One is a reluctant candidate, the other a comedian. The barbs in Chalakudy, understandably, have taken comical wings.
Senior Congress leader PC Chacko wanted to keep away from the poll battle. But the party forced him to take the plunge, swapping his old Thrissur seat for the safer Chalakudy nearby.
He shocked many by saying the Congress’ chances were bleak and blaming Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s silence for the ills plaguing the party. “We requested the PM to talk at least once a month but for some reasons he did not,” he said.
His opponents wasted no time in pointing out Chacko conceded defeat even before the match. And in order to make the ‘safe seat’ difficult for him, the CPM backed his independent rival and popular Malayalam comedian Innocent.
But the comedian’s entry energised Chacko. “Too Innocent; he will face Kitunni’s fate,” he said. Kitunni is a comic character Innocent enacted in the Priyadarshan-directed Malayam movie Kilukkam. Led to believe he had won a lottery, Kitunni had his dreams shattered.
Innocent, a cancer survivor, struck back. “You cannot fool Kitunni every time. Chacko is already in the pavilion, hit wicket,” he said. “Give any black object and he will make it white in no time,” he added in an oblique reference to Chacko – as JPC chief – bailing out the UPA government in the 2G scam.
He fired another salvo: “It is a battle between an innocent and a not-so-innocent.”
The pun was apparently intended at the Congress for seeking a hydropower project on Western Ghats. Greens are against the project they say will spoil pristine forests.
The pro-development Kasturirangan report on Western Ghats made ‘without inputs from locals’ is a key issue in Chalakudy and two other constituencies (Wayanad and Idukki). Christians and Ezhavas (backward Hindus), a potent voting force, stand to be affected by power projects.
The CPM is exploiting this ‘anti-people agenda’ to woo the minorities and make Chacko bite the dust. Chalakudy – Mukundapuram before de-limitation – has been a traditional Congress-backed United Democratic Front seat with the party’s KP Dhanapalam winning it in 2009.