Updated: March 14, 2021 10:02:40 pm
It’s a state where it does not have high stakes. However, if its list of candidates for the upcoming Kerala Assembly polls is any indication, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) seems to be spoiling for a fight.
The saffron party put out a list of 112 candidates on Sunday, putting the likes of actor-turned-politician and Rajya Sabha MP Suresh Gopi, ‘Metro Man’ E Sreedharan, state party chief K Surendran, former Vigilance director Jacob Thomas, former Mizoram governor Kummanam Rajashekaran and former Union Minister and Rajya Sabha MP Alphons Kannanthanam in the electoral forefront.
Party national executive committee member PK Krishnadas, former DGP Jacob Thomas, actor Krishnakumar and former Calicut University VC Abdul Salam are also among prominent names in the BJP list.
Polling for the Assembly will be held in a single phase on April 6.
Both Gopi and Kannanthanam contested 2019 Lok Sabha elections but lost. Whle the former was defeated by TN Pratapan in Thrissur, Kannanthanam lost to Hibi Eden. Both the winning candidates were from the Congress-led UDF.
Gopi will try his luck again from Thrissur Assembly constituency, Kannanthanam has moved to his hometown Kanjirappally to seek his maiden entry to the House.
Rajasekharan will represent the BJP in Nemom, the constituency from where the party won its maiden seat in the Assembly in 2016. The party dropped its sole sitting legislator O Rajagopal and brought Rajasekharan in his place. The Congress has fielded senior leader K Muraleedharan in the hope of wresting the seat from the BJP.
Former BJP state president CK Padmanabhan faces an uphill task against Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in Dharmadam constituency.
BJP sources in the national capital said the party has gone with familiar faces to “make the best of its chances” in a state where UDF and the ruling CPI(M)-led LDF have traditionally taken turns at power and governance. “The goodwill these leaders garnered during the 2019 elections could be advantageous to them and boost their chances of winning these seats,” a party leader said.
Interestingly, Surendran is contesting two seats – Manjeshwar of Kasargode district in northern Malabar region and Konni of Pathanamthitta district in central Kerala. Surendran lost the Manjeahwar seat by just 86 votes in the last election. He was fielded as the party’s nominee for the Konni bypoll last year, but lost again.
The move to contest two seats where the party wields considerable influence in some pockets hasn’t gone down well with some state leaders. “This is ridiculous. Not even Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan or his predecessor Oommen Chandy is contesting two constituencies. This could hurt our prospects in both the constituencies,” said a party leader in Kerala.
Despite voicing his willingness to contest, Union Minister V Muraleedharan’s name does not figure in the list of 112 candidates. The BJP is contesting 115 of the 144 constituencies in Kerala, having allotted 35 seats to ally BDJS.
Senior leader Sobha Surendran also didn’t find a place in the list announced on Sunday.
While the BJP drew a blank in Kerala in the last Lok Sabha elections, the NDA increased its vote share to 15.20% from 10.85% in 2014.
With inputs from Shaju Philip
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