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Rebels add new dimension to fight

The presence of prominent rebels in Kovalam and Trivandrum West has given an added dimension to the battle.

india Updated: Apr 13, 2006 18:31 IST

Known for its political shifts every five years, electoral battles in Kerala's capital district are keenly watched as the 14 assembly segment in the sprawling area is reputed for voting with the winning side.

While the UDF and and LDF aspirants are locked in grim battles in all the segments, the presence of prominent rebels in Kovalam and Thiruvananthapuram West has given an added dimension to the battle of ballots.

In 2001, the UDF won 10 seats in the district and the LDF lifted the remaining four, virtually reversing the 1996 tally.

A former Minister and a senior Janata Dal (S) leader, Neelalohitadasan Nadar, has entered the fray against the official LDF candidate after he was denied ticket for his alleged involvement in two sexual harassment cases.

In the adjoining Thiruvananthapuram West, it is the turn of the UDF to cope with the rebel trouble with former KPCC General Secretary T Sarathchandra Prasad refusing to bow out.

The UDF has allotted the seat to DIC(K), whose nominee Sobhana George is straining every nerve to face the challenge from LDF's Surendran Pillai (KC-J) and Prasad as well.

A shrewd politician, Nadar had termed denial of candidature to him an 'injustice to the backward classes', apparently to cash in on casteist sentiments in the area dominated by Nadars and other backward communities.

Congress has fielded George Mercier and the LDF has put up Rufus Daniel in the seat, which was won by Nadar last time.

The LDF is in a buoyant mood after its impressive win in the Lok Sabha by-election and local body elections a few month back, exuding confidence that Thiruvananthapuram district is an area where the front is poised for a sweep.

But UDF leaders have declined to be disheartened holding that their slogan of 'fast-track development' has gone down well with voters in the area.

Being the capital district with a large number of government employees, the UDF expects that the recent pay revision would bring some political returns to the coalition.

Though DIC(K) led by K Karunakaran has some pockets of influence in the district, grassroots signals indicate that the last-minute seat adjustments with the UDF has not worked out well.

The faction-driven BJP is in total disarray in the district, where it was considered a steadily growing force until recently. Making matters worse for itself, BJP had withdrawn the candidate in Thiruvananthapuram West, fuelling speculation that it is to help Congress rebel Prasad.

Prominent UDF candidates in the fray include Deputy Speaker Sundaran Nadar in Parassala, Transport Minister N Sakthan in Nemam and former Minister G Karthikeyan in Aryanad.

Important LDF figures fighting it out here include former Speaker and CPI(M) state secretary M Vijayakumar in Thiruvananthapuram North, RSP state secretary TJ Chandrachoodan in Aryanad and former mayor V Sivankutty in Thiruvananthapuram East.