Protests have broken out from CPM workers in parts of Kerala against an effort by the leadership to field celebrity candidates in the elections. The CPM has been warming up to the idea of fielding celebs of late, after actor Innocent, a Left-backed independent, defeated Congress veteran P C Chacko to the Chalakudy Lok Sabha seat. This time, actress K P A C Lalitha and actor Mukesh, as also well-known TV journalist Veena George, are in the provisional list of candidates.
On Sunday, activists of the CPM and its youth wing DYFI took out a march at Vadakkanchery, Thrissur, against the move to field Lalitha. They demanded a candidate who knows the pulse of the constituency. The protests came in spite of the party having warned of action against those working against the leadership’s directives. Lalitha herself said the protests are quite natural as there would always be different opinions about her candidature. “I am not concerned about such things,’’ she said.
The CPM is looking at actor Mukesh as its candidate for Kollam, a seat represented by party veteran P K Gurudasan. Another seat where the CPM is banking on star value is Aranmula, with Veena being considered. Her husband Dr George Joseph is the secretary of the Malankara Orthodox Church, a prominent non-Catholic Christian denomination; the party expects to gain Orthodox Church votes. Graffiti and posters have appeared in many parts of Kollam and Aranmula constituencies against the proposed candidatures. On Saturday, 50-odd CPM workers raised slogans against Veena’s candidature. They said they would not accept the “Church nominee” and demanded that the party instead field Omallur Sankaran, leader of CPM-affiliated Kerala Karshaka Sangham.
Left political observer R P Azad sees the preference for celebrities as a trend. “The days are gone when a candidate evolved from a party’s mass interventions and agitations,” Azad said. “At the time of elections, parties have to scout the film world for candidates who can win votes through their good looks or celebrity status.”
CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said that victory does not depend on the merit of candidates alone. “The credit for a victory goes to the party and the political front,” he said. “The ongoing protest against these candidates will only weaken the Left’s prospects of winning the elections. The aim of the individual-centric discussions is only to weaken the party,” he added. “After all, the party has not officially announced the candidates.”