Congress legislator takes on sitting Left MP in Kerala’s Alappuzha


Alappuzha (Kerala) : The stage is set for a battle royal in Kerala’s Alappuzha Lok Sabha constituency (earlier known as Alleppey) between sitting MP, Dr K.S. Manoj of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), and firebrand Congress legislator and former state tourism minister K.C. Venugopal.

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In the 2004 polls, Manoj, a doctor by profession and considered a rank outsider in the political arena, emerged a dark horse, beating Congress veteran and four time MP, V.M. Sudheeran by 964 votes.

This time, with Sudheeran backing out of the fray, the Congress after a lot of search, zeroed upon Venugopal, who had completed a hat trick of victory from the Alappuzha assembly seat in the 2006 assembly poll.

Speaking to IANS, Manoj admitted the fight this time would be intense.

“Certainly Venugopal’s choice as a candidate has made my election really tough, simply because he was a former minister. Nevertheless, unlike my debut in 2004, I am a known political personality now and I bank on what I did here in the last five years,” he said.

Citing his achievements, he said he had been able to get noted agricultural expert Dr M.S. Swaminathan to prepare a “Kuttanad Package” which has been cleared as well as arranging for setting up of a joint venture between Indian Railways and state-owned public sector firm Autocast for manufacture of products for railways. A virology laboratory has also been set up, he added.

But Venugopal and his campaign managers are confident that this time Manoj will be floored because even when the Left virtually swept the 2004 Lok Sabha polls, the winning margin at Alappuzha was a mere 964 votes.

The Congress also expects that the recent face off between the CPI-M and the Communist Party of India (CPI) also will work to their advantage because the CPI has a fairly good following in two of the seven assembly constituencies in the Alappuzha seat.

Speaking to IANS, A.A. Shukoor, Alappuzha district Congress president and Venugopal’s chief campaign manager, said their biggest advantage was that people were now familiar with Manoj’s record.

“His performance as a parliamentarian is now known to all and he has been an abject failure. On the one hand, he and his party say that it is because of the flawed policies of the centre that has hampered his work and on the other hand, he says he is responsible for the Kuttanad package and other development programmes. How can that be?” asked Shukoor.

“All the programmes that he is banking on became a reality because of cabinet ministers like A.K. Antony and Vayalar Ravi, both of whom hail from Alappuzha district,” he added.