Innocent humours Chalakudy, but veteran Chacko may laugh best
If crowds are any barometer for electoral success, Kerala's ace comedian and character artiste Innocent is certainly keeping his constituency humoured, but veteran Congressman P.C. Chacko may well be the "he who laughs last, laughs best".
Given the vagaries of electioneering in this part of the world, Innocent, despite his popularity, is still the one with an outside chance in the battle for Chalakudy constituency, pitted as he is against experienced parliamentarian P.C.Chacko.
Before making people laugh during his election campaign, Innocent first triggered surprise in his home constituency and the whole of Kerala when the Communist Party of India-Marxist announced its decision to support him as an Independent.
Known for his sense of humour both on and off the screen, the 69-year-old Innocent is also the president of the Association of Malayalam Movie Artistes. His campaign is well off the blocks with the star regularly interacting with his voters during corner meetings.
His rage can be gauged from the fact that in most places people wait for long hours just to catch a glimpse of the actor. True to his character, he never disappoints, because there is never a dull moment when Innocent is around, especially when he has his audience laughing away to glory with his speeches and remarks.
And at every meeting, he makes it a point to say that he is a son of a Communist who had won elections to the village councils during his (Innocent's) childhood.
"Even though, I am not the best actor in the industry here and there are more qualified candidates in the CPI-M, they see something in me and hence they have made me the candidate," says Innocent.
He is pitted against Congress strongman P.C. Chacko, who was the chairman of the Joint Parliamentary Committee probing the 2G spectrum case in the outgoing Lok Sabha.
Chacko himself is no green horn in Indian politics.
In 1996, he represented the Mukundapuram Lok Sabha constituency, which was delimited in 2008. However, in the 2009 polls, he won from the Thrissur constituency, that borders Chalakudy.
His decision to move out from Thrissur to Chalakudy for the 2014 Lok Sabha election was the result of issues which he has with the local Congress leadership. Those issues might well turn out to be a blessing in disguise for Chacko now.
Chalakudy constituency has been carved out of a major portion of the erstwhile Mukundapuram constituency and the restructuring is known to favour Chacko's chances. The Congress cadre from the new constituency too are known to have a good rapport with Chacko.
Although the history of the Chalakudy constituency per say is short, the region has generally favoured the Congress.
Yet, the fight for the Chalakudy seat will be interesting.
Will Innocent, an actor who has played the role of a politician or a minister several times during his career spanning 500 films, finally make a transition to a real politics?
Or will Chacko, a hardened politician, accused by the opposition of trying to scuttle the 2G probe, use his tact and experience to sweep his debutant opponent away?
The ballots April 10 in Chalakudy will decide the victor. Will it be Innocent or the not-so-innocent.
(Posted on 26-03-2014)