P.S. Sreedharan Pillai bows out of electoral fray citing personal reasons

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) former State president P.S. Sreedharan Pillai, who was tipped to be the party’s candidate from the Pathanamthitta constituency in the Lok Sabha election, has expressed his unwillingness to enter the fray.

Though personal reasons are cited as the reason for Mr. Pillai’s reluctance, the actual reason is understood to be the changed political scenario that makes it difficult for the party to turn the contest into a serious one.

The party had hoped to cash in on the protest against the proposed Aranmula airport project led by Hindu Aikya Vedi leader Kummanam Rajasekharan and others. Many associated with the Aranmula temple had opposed the project besides environmental organisations.

The BJP had estimated that the party would be able to corner at least 15 per cent votes in the constituency, double the percentage of votes won by the party in 2009.

It was expected that Mr. Pillai would be able to win votes beyond the traditional support base of BJP and overcome difficulties caused by the Nair Service Society (NSS) – Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana (SNDP) Yogam divide.

The situation has but changed with the entry of Peelipose Thomas as the Left Democratic Front (LDF) candidate. Mr. Thomas, who was in the forefront of the agitation against the airport project, had quit the Congress to contest as a candidate of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI-M]-led Left Democratic Front (LDF).

Advantage BJP

The BJP had the advantage that it could blame both the ruling United Democratic Front (UDF) and the LDF for giving nod to the airport project.

The UDF government was promoting the project while the previous LDF government had given clearance for the project, sources said.

Though the LDF is also agitating against the project now, it has a credibility crisis as its government had cleared the project and aided land transactions and development. Mr. Thomas faces no credibility problems as he was one who had opposed the project from within the Congress and against its top leaders. So, Mr. Thomas’ candidature would have better appeal among opponents of the project than the BJP’s.

Moreover, the BJP faces dissidence and financial problems in launching an effective campaign in Pathanamthitta. The party has already announced three of its candidates and these would be the contests for which the party would spare no efforts. (As per the list announced from New Delhi on Saturday, former Union Minister of State O. Rajagopal is to contest from Thiruvananthapuram and State general secretaries K. Surendran and A.N. Radhakrishnan from Kasaragod and Ernakulam respectively.) It has not yet shortlisted another candidate for Pathanamthitta, despite Mr. Pillai’s firm stand.

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