History repeats in Devikulam; Will Raja opt for Kodikunnil’s approach?

By Our correspondent 

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Kodikunnil Suresh, A Raja | Photo: Mathrubhumi

Kozhikode: The disqualification of A Raja of CPM as a member of the Kerala Legislative Assembly resembles multiple incidents in the political history of the state.

Devikulam witnessed the disqualification and reelection of an MLA in the very first Assembly of the state. And recently, a Congress legislator overturned a similar verdict of the high court by appealing to the apex court.

The Kerala High Court on Monday cancelled the election of Left Democratic Front (LDF) MLA A Raja to the state Assembly from Devikulam constituency in Idukki district, noting that he does not qualify to contest from the constituency reserved for the Scheduled Caste (SC) community.

The court's ruling came on a plea submitted by the United Democratic Front (UDF) candidate for the constituency, D Kumar. As per the order, Raja cannot continue as an MLA, but can approach a higher court challenging the verdict.

Earlier, Mavelikara member in the Lok Sabha, Kodikunnil Suresh, had secured a favourable verdict from the Supreme Court in a similar scenario. Like Devikulam, Mavelikara is also a constituency reserved for the SC community. Congress leader Kodikunnil Suresh secured victory in the constituency in 2009.

However, the Kerala High Court cancelled the election stating that Suresh could not be considered as an SC member. Suresh approached the Supreme Court, which ruled in favour of the leader and cancelled the HC order.

The apex court noted that Suresh’s past victories in the polls are proof that the community considered him one of them. The top court accepted the high court’s finding that Suresh was born and brought up as a Christian. But, it also pointed out that he converted to Hinduism at the age of 16.

As Raja approaches the Supreme Court, Kodikunnil Suresh’s case is likely to garner attention. In the latter’s case, the court pointed out his previous poll victories. But, for Raja, this is the first time he has ever contested the state assembly.

History repeats in Devikulam

The first case of a court nullifying an election to the KLA happened in the first Assembly. That was also in Devikulam. In 1957, Devikulam was a two-member constituency and Rosamma Punnoose had then sworn in as the first member of the Kerala Assembly and got elected as the pro-term speaker.

However, opposing candidate BK Nair approached the high court alleging that his nomination was rejected illegally. The court cancelled the election and Kerala’s first bypoll was held at Devikulam in 1958. Following that, Rosamma Punnoose won with over three times the previous majority.

Over the years, Devikulam witnessed victories for both Congress and LDF candidates. In 2006, CPM won the constituency through S Rajendran’s candidacy. Controversies began to erupt ever since A Raja was declared the CPM candidate in 2021.

Currently, Surendran is keeping his distance from the party over the allegation that he attempted to defeat Raja in the polls.

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