Kerala assembly elections: Puthuppally- Chief Minister Oommen Chandy faces challenge from a first timer

Oommen Chandy and George Kurian
Key contestants: Oommen Chandy (UDF), Jaik P Thomas (LDF), George Kurien(BJP) 

Sitting MLA: Oommen Chandy (Chief Minister - Congress) 

Strengths:

Having served as Chief Minister of Kerala twice, Chandy's rise in the Congress party has been a steady one. He has a strong connect not just with the party voters in the state but also with the residents in his consitutency, having won elections 10 times since 1970. He is also the Congress party's best face to lead them into the elections despite facing a setback in the last few years due to allegations of receiving sexual favors and kickbacks in the Solar scam. Having implemented partial prohibition in a state that is known for high per capital alcohol consumption and crimes related to it and several important development projects, Chandy has a clear edge to help the ruling UDF to retain power in the state - which is otherwise known for electing the UDF and the left parties led LDF alternatively every 5 years. 

Weakness:

While Chandy has relatively had a clean political career except for unproven allegations against him in the Palmolein import scam in 1991-92 during his term as finance minister, the recent developments in the Solar scam have dented his reputation among the voters. Ever since the scam broke out 3 years back, Chandy’s close aides have lost their jobs, and one of them was even arrested, due to their proximity to the key accused Saritha Nair. After sparing the Chief Minister during the inital days of the controversy, Nair subsequently alleged that Chandy took sexual favors from her and accepted bribes and asked her to partner with his son Chandy Oommen in a solar project. 

While the charges against him are yet to be proven, the salacious details that have emerged from the scandal is likely to have an impact. 

Jaick P Thomas (Photo: Facebook)
Jaick P Thomas - LDF

Strengths:

The 26-year old Students' Federation of India (SFI) State president is hoping to make history by unseating the veteran Oommen Chandy. Jaick expects to attract the votes from the youth and is also banking on anti-incumbency factor to help his cause. 

Weakness:

A comparatively new face against the veteran Chief Minister 

George Kurien 

Strengths:

Will be betting on Modi's proactive, non-corrupt image and central scheme projects in the State. He is also campaigning on the plank of development. 

Weakness: The odds of BJP winning in a constitutency, dominated by Christian voters is rather dim. Also, the BJP is not seen as a major party in the state for the voters to opt for Kurien instead of a well known face like Chandy

Likely result: Oommen Chandy is likely to win unless the other two candidates bring some last minute firepower to dislodge Chandy from the minds of the voters 

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel

DEHLI ELECTION TRENDS