Congress releases list of Kerala candidates

Thiruvananthapuram, April 4 (IANS) The Congress on Monday evening released its list of 83 candidates for the assembly polls in Kerala that includes the names of 33 of 39 sitting legislators.

The list was released by the All India Congress Committee exactly a week after the final round of talks began in Delhi. The party said it will soon announce the names of candidates for three more constituencies.

As expected, six sitting legislators did not find place in the list.

Veteran leader and outgoing minister Aryadan Mohammed, his cabinet colleague C.N. Balakrishnan, as well as three-time legislator T.N. Prathapan — who had expressed their desire to be left out — were not named.

First time legislator P.A. Madhavan, and two-time speaker Therambil Ramakrishnan also did not figure in the list.

After a long tiff with state Congress president V.M. Sudheeran, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy managed to get included his cabinet colleagues K. Babu, K.C. Joseph and Adoor Prakash and also legislator Dominic Presentation, but was unable to save his close aide Benny Behanan.

Behanan was reportedly ejected by party vice president Rahul Gandhi, meant as a move to placate Sudheeran.

Behanan, earlier in the day after getting clearance from his mentor Chandy, announced his decision to withdraw his candidature. In his place, former Lok Sabha member P.T. Thomas has been fielded.

Another highlight of the list are both children of late former chief minister K. Karunakaran.

While K. Murlaeedharan was cleared from his current seat in the state capital, his sister Padmaja Venugopal is contesting from Thrissur for the first time to the assembly, after unsuccessfully contesting the 2004 Lok Sabha polls, which she lost.

Chandy is contesting for a record 11th time from Puthupally constituency, which he has been representing since 1970.

“The party has come out with the best possible list of candidates and which will help the state government retain power,” Sudheeran said on Monday.

Polls for the 140-member Kerala assembly will be held on May 16.

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