In a constituency already crowded with several high-profile candidates, there is a new entrant.
Biju Ramesh, the powerful president of the Kerala Bar Hotel Owners Association and an established hotelier, is the AIADMK candidate in the Thiruvananthapuram constituency, where several high-ranking leaders are trying their luck.
Ramesh had surfaced as a whistle-blower of sorts when he released audio recordings in which bar owners were allegedly heard discussing bribes with ministers of the incumbent Congress government for licenses. The recordings, which eventually led to a full-blown scandal, resulted in the resignation of Finance Minister KM Mani and a huge setback for the Oommen Chandy-led government.
In Thiruvananthapuram, it is not going to be an easy contest for Ramesh though who is entering the electoral waters for a party that has virtually no base in the state. The AIADMK, which rules neighbouring Tamil Nadu, is contesting seven seats in Kerala — those with a substantial Tamil population.
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Ramesh will be pitted against BJP’s star candidate and ex-cricketer S Sreesanth as well as VS Sivakumar, the state health minister and Congress candidate. Antony Raju’s candidature from the Left Front will make it a four-cornered contest.
Apart from Thiruvananthapuram, the AIADMK will also field candidates in Chitoor, Nenmara, Malampuzha, Peerumedu, Devikulam and Udumbanchola constituencies. All of these seats lie in districts that border the state of Tamil Nadu and have sizeable Tamil votes.