After weeks of suspense, the BJP high command has decided to field Sobha Surendran from the Kazhakuttom assembly constituency in Thiruvananthapuram. A press release by the BJP Central Office on Wednesday confirmed that the seat in Thiruvananthapuram has been given to Sobha, who is the party Vice President in Kerala.
Kazhakoottam is an important seat for the BJP in the state, as the party came second in the constituency in the 2016 assembly election. Senior party leader and current Rajya Sabha MP V Muraleedharan had contested from the seat five years ago, and had polled 42, 732 votes, just 8000 odd votes behind CPI(M)â€™s Kadakkampally Surendran. Since the seat is an important one for the party, the BJP was likely to field a senior leader or an important candidate from the seat.
On Sunday, when the party announced the list of candidates contesting from 115 seats in Kerala, candidates from Kazhakootam and 3 other seats were held back. The party decided to hand over two seats - Konni and Manjeswaram - to State President K Surendran. Following this, a disappointed Sobha Surendran gave a cryptic response to the media, congratulating Surendran on getting the constituencies.
According to reports, Sobha, who has been at loggerheads with the state leadership, had said that Surendran had got an opportunity bigger than what many senior leaders had got in the state. She followed it up with a congratulatory message. According to reports, the state leadership was unhappy with giving the seat to Sobha. The Central leadership of the party had even approached Bharath Dharma Jana Senaâ€™s (BDJS) Thushar Vellappally to contest from Kazhakoottam.
Sobha had also empathised with her contemporary from Congress Lathika Subhash who tonsured her head in protest and quit the party after not being given a seat from Irinjalakuda. She expressed solidarity for addressing gender bias in politics.
Sobha had earlier maintained that she would not be contesting in the assembly polls. However, she later changed her stance, stating that if the assembly seat was Kazhakoottam, she was ready to contest. State President K Surendran too addressed the media and confirmed that Sobha would be given a seat in the state, mending the rift between the vice president state leadership at least temporarily.
According to reports, BJPâ€™s Central leadership did not want to field V Muraleedharan once again, as the party feels it is not in a position to lose a Rajya Sabha seat from Maharashtra.