Rain plays spoilsport in the Kerala by-election campaign

Vinson Kurian THIRUVANANTHAPURAM | Updated on October 17, 2019 Published on October 17, 2019

A file picture of an election campaign in Kerala.

The arrival of North-East monsoon has hit the campaign trail.


A string of five crucial by-elections to the State Assembly early next week could not have come at a worse time for political parties in Kerala as much because of a walloping it is now receiving from a North-East monsoon as a 'variously engaged' voters minds.

The North-East monsoon that announced its arrival has put paid to the best campaign plans of the candidates of the ruling CPIM)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF), the Opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) and a spirited third contender in the BJP.

Rain-hit campaign

Though expected, the rains, which have been frequenting the terrain from as early as a week before the season was officially declared, had hit the campaign trail at a time when it was peaking.

While this Act of God might just have been factored in by the politicians since the elections were announced in advance, what they had not bargained was the tough task to engage the voters and fight for their attention span for another reason.

And this has got to do with the almost round-the-clock media coverage dedicated to the spine-chilling act by a suspected psychotic woman accused of murdering at least six members in her family at the remote Koodathayi in Kozhikode district.

Jolly Amma Joseph, the 47-year-old woman, has been arrested by the police in connection with the death of her husband, and five other family members between 2002 and 2016.

Jolly is a commerce graduate but had led entire Koodathayi in believing that she had an engineering degree and therefore a faculty at the NIT-Kozhikode all these years, a pretence that unravelled before her arrest, giving the police an early lead to work on.

Jolly and two others were arrested on October 5 in the case relating to the death of her husband Roy Thomas in 2011. Roy Thomas had died following consumption of cyanide-laced food.

Time, space issues

After Jolly’s arrest, police opened investigations into the death of five others. She is the prime suspect in connection with the five other deaths in the family which took place over a period of five years.

Both the print and television channels have been investing a lot of time and space into the coverage of this unprecedented crime carried out by a woman, leaving precious little time for politicians to take the stage.

Read also: Female serial killings in Kerala

Some of the crafty ones among them are seeking to drum up some coverage on the Koodathayi murders with an unmistakable eye on the prospects of the byelections since the campaign was not able to crank up traction.

Kerala Pradesh Congress President (KPCC) Mullappally Ramachandran fired the first shot, alleging that details of the serial deaths, though known to the police much earlier, were made public ahead of assembly polls as part of a diversionary tactic.

The KPCC chief said the police were able to identify the culprits in the Koodathayi serial deaths case much earlier. But carrying out arrests just ahead of the byelections is aimed at ensuring that political issues are not discussed.

“The farce that being enacted in front of us is also aimed at trivialising the all-important issues including Sabarimala,” Mullappally said in a statement, managing to invoke the evocative issue surrounding the hill shrine for good measure.

CPI(M) hits back in kind

According to him, all developments in the case are stage-managed by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan who holds the Home portfolio, CPM State Secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan and State Police Chief. The drama will last until the by-election are over, he said.

Not to be outwitted, Balakrishnan slammed the Congress chief for seeking to make the serial murders a poll issue and demanded to know if the Congress had to hide something by suggesting that the drama would be over with the by-election.

Separately, the State Secretary of the CPM made a significant comment on Sabarimala saying a majority of people visiting the hill shrine are communists.

The CPI(M) has never opposed the religious beliefs of people, Balakrishnan said. People had greeted him with 'Lal Salam’ (as comrades call out greeting each other) when he visited Sabarimala during his tenure as the Home Minister.

He said that members of the Hindu Nair Service Society owing allegiance to the Left Democratic Front (LDF) would continue to support the front.

The Congress had lost the political strength to oppose the BJP in the country. “The Congress is an Opposition party that supports BJP in Parliament. The Congress’s failure is behind the RSS flexing its muscles,” he added.


Published on October 17, 2019
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