The youngest contestant of the April 13 Assembly polls in the prestigious Ernakulam constituency, National Students' Union of India President Hibi Eden of the Congress-led United Democratic Front, will cross swords with veteran Sebastian Paul of Communist Party of India-Marxist-led Left Democratic Front.
For 27-year-old Hibi, testing the electoral waters for the first time, it is a do or die battle for the constituency, once represented by his father, the late George Eden in the assembly and Lok Sabha. Scarcity of drinking water, power, lack of proper sewage system in the fast-growing constituency are among the issues that Hibi would be highlight during his campaign.
The advantage of youth and 'fresh face' was on his side and he would not be cowed down by the experienced Paul, Hibi told mediapersons. "This is not about individuals. This is a political fight. The anti-incumbency factor is strong, people are ready to vote out the LDF," he said.
Sebastian Paul, a well known lawyer and media critic, had contested from the constituency six times from 1997-2004 and emerged victorious on four occasions. This is the seventh time he is trying his luck from the constituency.
Paul had first entered the poll arena in the 1997 Lok Sabha by-poll in which he defeated Antony Issac of Congress. Though he was defeated in the subsequent election in 1998 against George Eden, he was elected the same year to the assembly from 1998-2001.
He was a member of 13th Lok Sabha from 2003 to 2004 and 14th Lok Sabha from 2004-09. In the last Lok Sabha polls, the LDF had put up Sindhu Joy against Union minister K V Thomas. In the assembly by-poll Dominic Presentation of the UDF was elected against the LDF's P N Seenulal.
Latin Catholic votes are crucial in the constituency and both the main candidates are from the community. The Bharatiya Janata Party candidate is C G Rajagopal, who is also making his poll debut this time. There are 1,33,398 voters in the constituency, including 65,274 male and 68,124 female.