The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is contesting this election in Kerala with renewed hope and confidence. It is their maiden election after young women prayed at the Sabarimala temple in Pathanamthitta.
Ever since the Supreme Court pronounced its judgement on September 28, 2018, right-wing organisations have been projecting and publicising the issue foreseeing the Lok Sabha elections.
In the days that followed, the state witnessed unprecedented protests organised by the BJP and other right-wing outfits.
The state BJP President PS Sreedharan Pilai had even said that ‘Sabarimala is a golden opportunity’.
However, there is no perceived advantage to the BJP in the state unlike in other states. The NDA-front led by the BJP was the last to announce their candidate list. So far, BJP has not opened its account in the Lok Sabha polls from Kerala. The three serving MPs- V Muralidharan, Alphonse Kannanthanam and Suresh Gopi, were nominated to the Rajya Sabha. Senior leaders of the party like CK Padmanabhan, V Muralidharan, the incumbent state President PS Sreedharan Pillai and PK Krishna Das have fought several elections but ended up on the losing side.
The party opened its account in the state in the 2016 Assembly elections. O Rajagopal, former Rajya Sabha MP and union minister, who was the face of the party in many elections, finally tasted victory from Nemom in Thiruvananthapuram. Bharath Dharama Jana Sena (BDJS) and Kerala Congress (PC Thomas) are the other constituents of the NDA. The BJP is contesting from 14 seats, BDJS from 5 and Kerala Congress from one.
Here is the full list:
Alathur — TV Babu for the BDJS. Contested for the party in Nattika in 2016 Assembly elections and secured 22.45% votes.
Alappuzha — KS Radhakrishnan. He is a noted academician and writer. He is former Chairman of Kerala Public Service Commission and former Vice Chancellor of Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit, Kalady. To the surprise of many, he recently switched loyalties from the Congress to the BJP.
Attingal — Sobha Surendran, BJP State General Secretary. On March 2, Thrissur Additional District Court pronounced that she is in the ‘most wanted list’ for failing to appear before the court multiple times in relation to the anti-toll booth protest in Thrissur. A firebrand leader and one of the first woman leaders of the party in the state.
Chalakudy — AN Radhakrishnan, BJP State General Secretary. He started the BJP’s relay hunger strike against allowing young women to pray at Sabarimala temple, outside the Secretariat on December 3, 2018.
Ernakulam — Alphonse Kannanthanam for the BJP. Union Minister of State for Tourism. He joined the Modi government in September 2017. One of the three Rajya Sabha MPs of the BJP. The bureaucrat-turned-politician entered politics in 2006 by winning as an MLA with the backing of the LDF.
Idukki — Biju Krishnan, BDJS. He was former secretary of the SNDP Yogam Thodupuzha union. He is also a former district panchayat member.
Kannur — CK Padmanabhan for the BJP. Currently National Executive Member of the party. He served as the state President of the party twice. A senior leader, he was once known as an Advani loyalist.
Kasargode — Raveesh Thantri Kuntar for the BJP. In 2016 Assembly polls, he contested from Kasargode - the district that shares its border with Karnataka, and lost. He was issued a notice by the administrator of the Karnataka government-managed Mahalingeshwara temple in Puttu over why he can’t be removed from the post of Tantri for contesting the elections.
Kollam- KV Sabu from Kollam will be contesting on a BJP ticket.
Kottayam — PC Thomas, Kerala Congress (PC Thomas). The party is a splinter group of Kerala Congress (Anti-merger Group). PC Thomas is the party chairman. He was a member of the 14th Lok Sabha of India, representing the Muvattupuzha constituency.
Kozhikode — Advocate KP Prakash Babu is the BJP Yuvamorcha state president. He contested from Nadapuram in 2011 Assembly election and from Bapur in the district in 2016. He was remanded to 14-day judicial custody on Thursday, in connection with a case related to Sabarimala.
Malappuram — V Unnikrishnan Master is former state President of ABVP, student wing of the BJP. Contested to the Assembly for Kottakkal constituency in the district in 2016.
Mavelikkara — Thazhava Sahadevan is vice-president of the BDJS. He had contested the 2016 Assembly elections from Kunnathur in Kollam and had secured 21,742 votes. He is a state leader of Panan community.
Palakkad — C Krishnakumar is BJP state secretary and former BJP president of Palakkad district as well as vice chairman-Palakkad Municipality. Contested from Malampuzha in 2016 Assembly polls and came second with 46,157 votes.
Pathanamthitta — K Surendran will be contesting on a BJP ticket. Pathanamthitta is the place from where the BJP had led various protests against the entry of women into the Sabarimala temple. K Surendran was one of the leaders who had spearheaded the protests.
Ponnai — VT Rema will be contesting for the BJP. She is the BJP Mahila Morcha state president.
Thiruvananthapuram — Kummanam Rajasekharan is former state president of the BJP. He quit the post of Mizoram Governor to contest in the elections as he is considered apt to take on an opponent like Congress’ Shashi Tharoor. He came third in the 2016 Assembly elections after Congress’s K Muraleedharan in Vattiyoorkav constituency in Thiruvananthapuram.
Thrissur — Thushar Vellappally is state president of the BDJS and convenor of the NDA. He is also vice-president of the powerful community organisation Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam (SNDP).
Vadakara — VK Sajeevan is state secretary of the BJP.
Wayanad — Paily Vathiattu for the BDJS. He was the party candidate in Peravoor in Kannur for the 2016 Assembly elections.