Congress likely to field veterans for Kerala Lok Sabha polls

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Thiruvananthapuram, Dec 21 (IANS) Former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, former party presidents V.M.Sudheeran and M.M.Hassan and the present chief Mulapally Ramachandran are likely to contest the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.

Among the other names that have started doing the rounds are sitting party legislators Adoor Prakash and Hibi Eden.

Kerala has 20 Lok Sabha seats and in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the Congress-led UDF won 12, the CPI-M led Left Democratic Front won eight and the BJP only managed to finish second in just one constituency – Thiruvananthapuram.

Among the 12 seats, the Congress won in eight, while the other seats went to its allies, the Indian Union Muslim League (2) and the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) and the Kerala Congress (Mani) (one each)

At present, two seats are lying vacant. The Kottayam seat fell vacant after Jose K. Mani of the Kerala Congress (Mani) recently quit after being elected to the Rajya Sabha, and the Wayanad seat, represented by Congress leader M.I.Shanavas who passed away last month.

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While the present ruling Left Front is desperate to increase its tally, the Congress after its poor performance in the 2016 assembly polls, knows that, if they are unable to better their performance, then things could go out of control. Hence, the party has decided to field the best candidates.

Other possible Congress candidates include Shashi Tharoor (Thiruvananthapuram), K.C. Venugopal (Alappuzha), Kodikunnil Suresh (Mavelikara), M.K.Raghavan (Kozhikode) and Anto Antony (Pathanamthitta), all of whom are sitting Lok Sabha members, and Mulapally Ramachandran (Badagara).

Chandy is most likely to be fielded from Idukki to wrest the seat that has for long been a Congress seat, which the party lost to a Left supported independent Joice George.

One major reason why the Congress candidate lost last time was due to the massive campaign the Left unleashed against Chandy’s handling of the Kasturirangan report.

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However, on Thursday, a rally was organised at Idukki to honour Chandy for the work he did to frame the amendments to the Kasturirangan report on Western Ghats, which his government had prepared in his tenure and was finally cleared last month by the Centre.

Chandy, who is presently a Congress Working Committee member, continues to be elusive and evades questions about contesting from Idukki.

Other seats that the Congress is eyeing include Kasargode, Kannur, Attingal, Thrissur and Chalakudi, which they lost in 2014.

Former Lok Sabha member P.C.Chacko, who won from Thrissur in 2009 and lost from Chalakudi in 2014, is keen on contesting from these two constituencies in 2019. Congress members K.Sudhakran is keen on contesting from Kannur, Sudheeran from Thrissur and Chalakudy and Adoor Prakash from Attingal.

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T.Siddiq, who lost the 2014 polls from Kasargode by a narrow margin, is likely to be renominated for a second outing.

K.V.Thomas, a former Union Minister who represents the Ernakulam seat, is likely to be replaced by two time young Congress legislator Hibi Eden who represents the Ernakulam assembly seat.

Hassan is eyeing the Wayanad Lok Sabha seat, which is considered a safe bet for the Congress.

“The Congress-led UDF can win as many as 18 seats this time, provided our candidate selection is right,” said a top UDF leader who did not wish to be identified.

–IANS

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