The CPI(M) in Kerala reportedly said on Monday that it will not field Dr PK Jameela, the wife of Welfare for SC, ST and Backward Classes Minister AK Balan, in the Tharoor constituency (Reserved) in Palakkad district for the Assembly election slated for April 6 following backlash. The party is most likely to field 37-year-old PP Sumod as the candidate for Tharoor, according to reports.
When asked whether the party decided to withdraw the candidature of Jameela following the uproar in the Palakkad district committee, sources at AKG Centre declined to comment. "The party had not officially announced Jameela as the candidate for Tharoor. Don't ask more, we don't know anything about it," a party functionary told TNM.
Minister Balan did not respond to requests for comment, though he had earlier categorically denied the speculation over Jameela's candidature.
Sumod, the Palakkad district president and state committee member of the DYFI, the youth wing of the CPI (M), said the official announcement from the party about his candidature has not yet been made, though it is expected in a few days. He will meet with the press once his candidature is officially announced, he stated.
Follwing intense speculation that the name of Dr PK Jameela had appeared in the CPI(M)'s probably candidate list for the upcoming elections, CPI(M) workers in Palakkad district decried the decision, as wall posters had recently appeared in Palakkad with the words 'Save Communismâ€™ in bold letters. The posters, in Malayalam, cautioned of an imminent backlash "if the party misuses its power to turn Palakkad into a family property."
The Minister for Welfare of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Backward Classes, Balan has been contesting in the seat since 2001.
In 2016, Balan retained the constituency by defeating Congress candidate C Prakash by a margin of 23,068 votes. Earlier, in 2011, Balan defeated N Vinesh of the Congress by a margin of 25,756 votes.
This time, he was forced to forfeit the seat as he could contest the election due to party norms that bars a legislator from contesting more than two times in an election. Against this backdrop, his wife's name appeared in the list of party probables to contest from Tharoor.
The minister had clarified that all reports regarding his wife's candidature were baseless. However, reports emerged claiming that Jameela's candidature had been approved by the party state committee.
Following this, a meeting of the Palakkad district secretariat held on Sunday reportedly opposed the state committee's move, noting that it would adversely affect the party's chances in other constituencies. Party workers also put up posters in Palakkad that led to primetime debates on Malayalam news channels.
Jameela is the daughter of former CPI(M) central committee member and Rajya Sabha MP PK Kunjachan.
A doctor by profession, Jameela had served in the Palakkad district hospital, and had retired from her post as director of the health department. She is currently leading the 'Aardram' health mission of the state government, which aims to create a 'People-Friendly' health delivery system in the state.
The incumbent CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) in Kerala is widely tipped to retain its power this election, but the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) is attempting to put up a fight, according to some media pre-poll surveys. The BJP, riding on the back of corruption charges levelled by the Congress against the government, and banking on the Hindutva vote, is trying to make its presence felt in the southern state. The future of the left parties in the country will depend on the outcome of the upcoming Assembly polls.