Congress on Saturday decided to field the son of late speaker G Karthikeyan as the party candidate for crucial by-election to Aruvikkara assembly segment. Karthikeyan’s son K S Sabarinadhan, an engineering graduate, is a senior manager with Tata Sons Limited in Mumbai.
He would take on CPI (M) candidate M Vijayakumar, a seasoned politician who had the posts of minister and speaker in previous LDF governments. The election would be held on June 27.
Congress wanted to field Karthikeyan’s wife M T Sulekha, but she refused to join the electoral politics. Hence, the mantle fell on the couple’s youngest son. Congress state chief V M Sudheeran announced the decision to field Sabarinadhan as the party candidate after several rounds of discussions with the family.
Karthikeyan had once revolted against veteran Congress leader K Karunakaran in 1990’s when the latter wanted to promote his son K Muraleedharan as his successor.
Along with present home minister Ramesh Chennithala, Karthikeyan had then questioned Karunakaran’s attempt to bring in family rule in Congress. The intra-party rebellion was then known as reformist movement. Now, Chennithala is also a party to the decision to handpick Karthikeyan’s son to contest the by-election to the seat vacated with his demise.
For the Congress-led Government, which is riding on a thin majority in the assembly, the by-election is very critical. In the 140-strong Assembly, the Congress-led UDF has only strength of 73 members only after the death of Karthikeyan. Kerala Congress (MO leader P C George, who had recently pulled apart from his party leader K M Mani but still staying with the UDF, has threatened to field his candidate under the banner of an anti-corruption front.
The UDF is already under pressure from the JD (U), which has two legislators, after the formation of Janata Parivar at the national level. JD (U) has recently sent enough indications that it may return to the CPI (M)-led LDF.
Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has stated that the by-election would be a referendum on his government’s four year rule. But, instead of going for a political fight by putting a party leader as the candidate, Congress wants to haul out a win by cashing in on the memories of Karthikeyan.
The by-poll is being fought at a time the government is rattled by the bar bribery scandal. The Vigilance probe against Finance Minister K M Mani is at the final stage and Opposition would play to hilt the outcome of the probe. Besides, another minister K Babu is also under the shadow of bar scandal after bar owners disclosed that he too was paid money.