Congress to begin candidate selection process today

No clarity yet on candidature of Oommen Chandy, Mullappally, K.C. Venugopal

The Congress screening committee for Kerala will hold its first meeting in New Delhi on Monday to begin the process of selecting candidates for the 16 seats that the party will contest under the United Democratic Front. However, the process will get some direction only after the party high command brings an element of clarity on fielding former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, AICC general secretary K.C. Venugopal and Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president Mullappally Ramachandran.

Several senior leaders, including V.D. Satheeshan and UDF convener Benny Behanan, too will get to express their views before the screening committee that comprises senior party leaders. The party high command had announced that all sitting candidates will be renominated. However, Mr. Ramachandran had expressed his wish to pull out and on Sunday, Mr. Venugopal also announced his disinclination to seek re-election from Alappuzha.

KC(M) decision

Mr. Chandy’s name has been doing the rounds, but a final call, especially on the choice of constituency, can be taken only after the Kerala Congress (M) sorts its internal differences out.

Party leaders are unanimous in their view that Mr. Chandy’s presence in the fray will change the electoral dynamic of several constituencies in Central Travancore and a few outside this belt. With the Communist Party of India(Marxist) setting out to test the electoral arena with a “caste and religious formula” and the BJP zeroing in on a few constituencies hoping to capitalise on the polarisation caused by Sabarimala, Mr. Chandy is likely to face pressure from the High Command.

Interestingly, it appears that both the UDF and the LDF have a shortage of candidates, prompting them to field sitting legislators and encash on their local appeal on the parliamentary canvass.

MLAs in fray

The CPI(M) has fielded A.A. Arif, Aroor MLA, in Alappuzha and Veena George in Pathanamthitta, A. Pradeep Kumar in Kozhikode and P.V. Anwar in Ponnani, while the CPI has fielded legislators C. Divakaran and Chittayam Gopakumar.

Adoor Prakash, Congress MLA from Konni, is being actively considered for Attingal or Alappuzha. The UDF will end up fielding two legislators if Mr. Chandy is also in the fray.

The scrutiny committee would not overlook the fact that the CPI(M), led by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, has not been doctrinaire in its candidate selection. The decision to field P. Jayarajan in Vadakara has also forced the Congress leadership to rethink its strategy. If Mr. Ramachadran sticks to his stand, it would prompt the Congress to support RMP leader K.K. Rema to focus on the cult of political violence promoted by the CPI(M).

With Kerala going to the polls in the third phase, the Congress leadership has ample time to work on its election strategies and announce candidates. Congress president Rahul Gandhi will be in the State on March 14. According to Congress sources, the final list will be approved most probably by March 16.

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Printable version | Apr 7, 2020 2:15:11 PM |

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