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NRI locks horns with Kerala legislator

The backwaters in Kuttanad are set to turn into a high profile battle as Chandy takes on veteran legislator KC Joseph.

india Updated: Mar 28, 2006 09:41 IST

The pristine backwaters in Kuttanad are set to turn into a high profile battle zone as cash-rich Kuwait-based expatriate Thomas Chandy takes on veteran legislator KC Joseph in assembly elections.

Chandy has been fielded by the Democratic Indira Congress-Karunakaran (DIC-K), which has joined the ruling United Democratic Front, while Joseph is a candidate of the Kerala Congress (Joseph), a member of the Left Democratic Front (LDF).

Joseph is unperturbed by the presence of Chandy because he has represented this constituency for the past 24 years since 1982.

Joseph, a medical doctor by profession, began his legislative career in 1977 from Perambara in Kozhikode district.

It was around the same time that Chandy, after dabbling in Congress student politics, left for greener pastures in Kuwait.

Chandy, popularly known as Kuwait Chandy, has money power but Joseph is confident that his long-time electorate will go for real legislative experience instead.

"I know my enemy is not the candidate but his money. But knowing every home in Kuttanad I know my electorate will see me through," said Joseph said.

But Chandy, who owns four schools, restaurants and bakeries in Kuwait, besides a Rs 200 million resort in Alappuzha, says Joseph has virtually stalled all development activities in Kuttanad.

"What has he done for Kuttanad in nearly 25 years? There are villages where drinking water is still a problem. People here have given enough opportunity to my opponent and it is time for a change," Chandy said.

However, even as the campaign is yet to begin formally, an old case in Kuwait might come back to haunt Chandy.

"I am no party at all in that case. I had leased out a building to another school in Kuwait and had collected 35,000 Kuwaiti Dinar and when the Kuwait Court asked me to return the money, I did it immediately. This is no case at all," said Chandy.

Joseph too said that character assassination was not his style.

"Everyone knows that Chandy is a non-resident Indian, so how can his name appear in the electoral rolls? But I am not going to rake it up because I don't have to because the electorate here knows both of us very well," added Joseph.

With Kuttanad going to the polls April 22, Chandy's money power and Joseph's experience as a legislator certainly promise a clash is otherwise cool Kuttanad.

One disadvantage for Chandy is that cadres in his own party are asking why a cash-rich NRI has been fielded.

Dissident leader MA John, who was recently ousted from DIC-K, has said the nomination was gifted to Chandy because of his money power.