After several deliberations with the Congress party's High command in New Delhi, the Congress in Kerala has finally announced its list of candidates for 12 Lok Sabha seats. Names of candidates for four seats have been withheld due to disagreements. These seats are Wayanad, Attingal, Alappuzha and Vadakkara.
Though names of heavyweights like former Chief Minister and AICC General Secretary Oommen Chandy, sitting MP of Alappuzha and AICC General Secretary KC Venugopal and KPCC President Mullappaly Ramachandran had been doing the rounds, none of them will be contesting this time.
The Congress in Kerala, leads the United Democratic Front or UDF, has traditionally been contesting from 16 seats in the state. There was no surprise as far as the candidate for Thiruvananthapuram was concerned. Two-time MP from the constituency, Shashi Tharoor, has been chosen again. Tharoor will face a tough three-way battle in the constituency.
Of the 12 seats, only one has been allotted to women, this despite Congress President Rahul Gandhi speaking about more women representation in job sectors. Remya Haridas has been picked for the Alathur seat. Remya is the President of Kunnamangalam Block Panchayat in Kozhikode.
This election will also see new faces - Remya and VK Sreekantan, who will contest from Palakkad.
Former MP and senior leader K Sudhakaran will contest from Kannur while former spokesperson Rajmohan Unnithan will contest from Kasargod, which is a CPI (M) stronghold. Sitting MP MK Raghavan will contest from Kozhikode constituency. DCC President and former MLA TN Prathapan is the candidate from Thrissur.
Former MLA and senior leader Benny Behannan will contest from Chalakkudy, while sitting MP and senior leader Kodikkunnil Suresh will contest from Mavelikkara.
Congress MLA Hibi Eden has been picked for Ernakulam. Incidentally, the legislator is one of the accused in the multi-crore solar energy investment scam.
Although DCC was not earlier in favour of sitting MP Anto Antony contesting again, he has been fielded to contest from Pathanamthitta constituency.
Although there were talks of Oommen Chandy contesting from Idukki, Youth Congress state president Dean Kuriakose has been picked for the constituency.
Prior to announcing the list, KPCC chief Mullappaly Ramachandran and opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala told the media that Oommen Chandy had a huge responsibility to shoulder and that though he was in charge of the party in Andhra Pradesh, his centre of activity would still remain to be Kerala.
Of the total 20 seats, UDF allies Indian Union Muslim League, Kerala Congress (M) and RSP have been allocated two and one seats each respectively. The IUML is contesting from Ponnani and Malappuram, the KC (M) from Kottayam and RSP from Kollam.
The allies had declared their candidates days ago. PK Kunjalikutty is the IUML candidate for Malappuram, while Mohammed Basheer for Ponnani. NK Premachandran is the RSP candidate for its lone seat in Kollam. The KC(M), after many days of internal battle between KM Mani and PJ Joseph factions, announced Thomas Chazhikkadan for Kottayam.
With the UDF and CPI(M)-led LDF also announcing its list, only the BJP-led NDA is left to come out with its final list.
The CPI, an ally of CPI (M)-led LDF, was the first to announce its candidates. The CPI (M) announced its list on March 9. The LDF has also begun their campaign soon after announcing the list.