The BJP on Sunday released the list of candidates for the April 6 Kerala Assembly elections, including its state president K Surendran, Metro Man E Sreedharan, former Mizoram Governor Kummanam Rajasekharan, and former Union Minister Alphons Kannanthanam.
BJP national executive committee member P K Krishnadas, former DGP Jacob Thomas, film artiste Krishnakumar, and the former V-C of Calicut University. Abdul Salam, have also been given tickets. The party has dropped its veteran and lone legislator O Rajagopal, who opened the account for the party in Kerala by winning the Nemom constituency in the 2016 elections. The BJP has replaced Rajagopal with Kummanam Rajasekharan, and the Congress has fielded senior leader K Muraleedharan at the seat.
BJP former state president C K Padmanabhan will contest against Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan at the Dharmadam seat. Actor-turned-politician Suresh Gopi, who is a Rajya Sabha member, will contest from Thrissur. Senior leader Sobha Surendran has not been given a ticket.
BJP state president K Surendran is contesting from two constituencies: Manjeswar in Kasaragod and Konni in Pathanamthitta. Surendran had lost Manjeswar in the last elections by 86 votes. He had unsuccessfully contested a bypoll in Konni last year.
Of 140 seats in the Kerala Assembly, BJP is contesting 115, while NDA ally BDJS is contesting 25.
On giving tickets to well known public figures, a party general secretary said: “Acceptable public faces can brighten the party’s prospects, enhance its image and make it more acceptable to voters.”
BJP sources in the national capital said the party is fielding familiar faces to “make the best of its chances” in a state where power has alternated between the CPM-led LDF and Congress-led UDF.
Rajya Sabha MPs Gopi and Kannanthanam had contested the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, but were defeated. Gopi was defeated by T N Prathapan in Thrissur and Kannanthanam lost to Hibi Eden, both of the UDF. While Gopi is trying his luck again in Thrissur, Kannanthanam is contesting from his hometown Kanjirappally.
The move to field state chief Surendran at two seats where the party has considerable influence in some pockets, has angered some leaders. “Not even Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan or former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy is contesting in two constituencies. This will just spoil the prospects of the party in both constituencies,” said a party leader from the state.
“This has not gone down well within the party, leadership or even the cadre. This can be interpreted as a non-serious approach from the national leadership,” said a national office bearer.
Although he had expressed his willingness to contest, Union Minister V Muraleedharan’s name was not in the list of BJP candidates announced on Sunday.
The BJP had not won any Lok Sabha seat, but the NDA had secured 15.20 per cent of the vote in 2019, increasing its share from 10.85 per cent in 2014. In the 2016 Assembly elections, the BJP had a vote share of 14.96 per cent.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.