Friday, October 15, 2010

All set for a maiden win


After 15 years in the Congress Party, Jaison Nediyathara has been selected to contest the Cochin Corporation polls from Palarivattom

By Shevlin Sebastian

At Congress leader Jaison Nediyathara’s house on Chaithanya Lane, Palarivattom, there are posters and leaflets piled up at one corner of the living room. On October 2, he was selected as the Congress candidate for the Palarivattom division for the upcoming elections to the Cochin Corporation.

There were 12 aspirants. But since the party wanted to select a young person, Jaison, 36, got the nod. “This is the first time I have got the chance to contest an important election,” he says. “I am excited about it.” Is he nervous? “Not at all,” he says, with a smile.

Naturally, the other candidates who missed out are unhappy. “That is expected,” says Jaison. “It is human nature to feel disappointed, but I hope to win them over in the next few days.” However, at this moment, this group has stayed away from the campaigning.

But Jaison has been on a hectic programme every day, visiting families. After all, there are 7000 votes at stake. “The common complaint is that the people want the roads to be repaired, and the drainage system to be improved,” he says. In some houses, the people have a lot of questions to ask. So Jaison has to sit down and explain the improvements he will bring about if he is elected.

Of course, not all voters are accommodating. Some are so angry that they have not allowed Jaison to meet them. This happened at a multi-storeyed building at Thammanam.

“A resident told me that they are not interested in voting for either the LDF or the UDF,” says Jaison. The reason for their grievance: every time it rains heavily, the car parking area gets flooded. Numerous requests had been filed to set up a proper drainage system, but it was met with no response from the standing councillor, Mini Joseph of the Communist Party of India (CPI).

In some houses, the people are curt and unfriendly. Most cannot avoid making the dig that voters aim at all politicians: “We see you only once in every five years.”

Despite the frustrations of the voters, what tilts the balance in Jaison’s favour is the demography of the area. More than 60 per cent are Christians and Jaison is one.
Also, this has been a UDF bastion, but last time, thanks to a Congress rebel, who took away 700 votes, Mini Joseph won. So, indeed, his chances are bright.

Local resident P.A. Stanley, a tailor, says, “Mini has done some good work, including setting up a few houses for the poor. I am in a dilemma on who to vote for, because both Jaison and Mini are my friends.”

But Mini is not standing for election this time. Since it has become a general, from
a woman’s seat, her colleague, Jojy Kurikott, is the candidate. Says Jojy, “Although it is a UDF stronghold, I am confident of winning.”

Mini says she has done a lot of good work, including solving water-logging problems in Pallichambel and Kalavath roads, and changing all the GI pipes to PVC. “I am sure the voters will repose faith in the CPI,” she says.

But Jaison says that the voting will be predictable. “Those who traditionally vote for the LDF will continue to do so, while the same will be the case with the UDF supporters,” he says. “It will be difficult to persuade a LDF supporter to vote for me.”

Despite this, Jaison exudes energy and optimism. The only time he looks fazed is when I ask him about the prospect of losing. “I am hundred per cent sure we will win,” he says. “I am not even thinking about losing. But in case it happens, I will carry on with the party activities. I have been a member for 15 years.”

Jaison’s wife, Jiji Rose, sitting nearby, a former teacher, and a mother of two small children, says firmly, “I am sure Jaison will win.”

(The New Indian Express, Kochi)

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