Kerala: Free for all as candidate lists get ready

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With just 28 days left for the upcoming Kerala Assembly polls, none of the traditional rival political fronts have been able to keep down the rush of candidates seeking a seat to contest.

Like in all previous elections, the Congress, which leads the present opposition is likely to contest 92 seats and the same can be said of the ruling CPI-M, which leads the LDF. There are 140 Assembly seats in the state and the rest of the seats are up for grabs among the respective allies of the two fronts.

Traditionally in the Congress-led UDF front, not a single election has gone by without the washing of dirty linen in the public when it comes to the final selection of candidates, and this was clearly evident this time also when the screening committee chairman of the Congress party H.K. Patil made a forceful statement that candidate-aspirants need not make a beeline to Delhi, where the top leaders from the state party sit down with the party high command to finalise the list.

Contrary to expectation, this time numerous posters have come up across the state, expressing ire over the selection of some CPI-M candidates and the dropping of some others.

However, things appear to be quiet in the third political front — the BJP-led NDA, where so far there has been no banter from any quarters.

“What has happened in the CPI-M is something strange. Unlike the Congress, never in the CPI-M, barring a few instances in the past when huge outrage was there after it’s veteran V.S. Achuthanandan was denied a seat to contest in 2006 and also in 2011. Later he was allowed to contest. This time it appears a free for all and has come as a shocker for the top brass of the CPI-M, when posters for and against a few names have come out. All are waiting to see how this discontentment is going to be settled,” said a top media critic, who did not wish to be identified.

The CPI-M has decided to come with a norm that all those who have contested twice in succession should stand down and this was made by none other than Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in a party meet, held here last week, when he said next time it would be applicable to him also.

As a result, five of its senior Cabinet Ministers — Thomas Issac, E.P. Jayarajan, G.Sudhakaran, C.Raveendranath and A.K. Balan besides another 18 Legislators, including the Speaker P.Sreeramakrishnan — will be unable to contest this time.

However, posters in favour of Issac, Sudhakaran and Sreeramakrishnan have come up in their respective constituencies and for a change there was stiff opposition against a few names like the wife of Balan — P.Jameela and also against former minister and speaker — K.Radhakrishnan, to name a few.

Likewise in the Congress, trouble began after former Legislator and senior Congress leader from Palakkad — A.V. Gopinath raised a banter, but soon damage control measures were initiated and for the time being he has been kept under check.

Other leaders like T.Sarathchandra Prasad, Vijayan Thomas to name a few have expressed their ire in not being given more importance when it came to the selection of candidates.

“Our final list is expected on Wednesday and it will be announced from Delhi. A list of candidates has been named from each of the constituencies and in Delhi, it would be screened and would be announced,” said a top Congress leader.

State Transport Minister A.K. Saseendran is facing stiff opposition from a section of his NCP partymen in his home district — Kozhikode.

A delegation of the NCP leaders are arriving in Delhi later Monday to express their anguish in deciding to field Saseendran again as they say he has contested seven times and hence others should get a chance.

Another surprise that surfaced was in the Janata Dal (S) when it sat down to select their four candidates, and Jameela Prakashan who had contested the Kovalam seat in the state capital raised her voice after her name was dropped in favour of her husband Neelalohithadasan Nadar, a former State Minister. She claimed that she had a better chance of winning the seat this time, though she lost it in 2016.

Despite the fireworks, all the parties are working fervently to finalise and release their list of candidates, as time is nearing April 6, the day of polling.

–IANS

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