Kottayam (Kerala): Will Puthupally in Kerala be witness to a new version of the biblical tale of David and Goliath? Chief Minister Oommen Chandy who has been winning every election from there since 1970 will take on the new state president of the Students Federation of India who turns 26 next month.
Seeking his 11th successive victory, the 72-year-old Chandy practically knows most of the voters by their first names, and the constituency like the back of his hand.
Jaik C. Thomas, the recently appointed SFI state president, told IANS that he heard the news on television that the Kottayam district committee of the CPI-M has selected him to fight against Chandy.
"I just heard it, and now all the things will be decided by the party. Yes, I am happy that I have been asked to contest against the chief minister who is currently facing a few allegations," said Thomas, who is presently doing his Masters in International Relations.
Asked how he feels about his chances, he laughed.
"No doubt, he (Chandy) is a very formidable rival and the constituency is predominantly supporting the Congress-led United Democratic Front. Even in 2011, he won with his biggest margin of more than 30,000 votes," said Thomas, who also hails from the constituency.
Facing student leaders at the polls is nothing new for the veteran Chandy. He had taken on student leader Sindhu Joy in the 2006 assembly polls.
When Chandy won his first assembly election way back in 1970, he was a young and raw Congress worker rising through student politics and was aged 26, the same age his new rival Thomas would be.
Chandy had then defeated veteran CPI-M leader E.M. George.
Despite several tries, Chandy could not be contacted as he was busy in election meetings in Malappuram district.
The only other legislator who has a better record than Chandy in the history of the Kerala assembly is K.M. Mani -- who has had an uninterrupted stint since 1967 and is now in the fray from Pala constituency, also in Kottayam district.