The BJP on Friday fielded former India pacer S Sreesanth from the Thiruvananthapuram seat even as it declared 50 other candidates for the upcoming Assembly polls in Kerala.
After a nearly four-hour-long meeting, the Central Election Committee (CEC) of BJP announced that Sreesanth has formally joined the party and would contest from Thiruvananthapuram.
Talking to reporters at a media briefing, 33-year-old Sreesanth said his name has been cleared by the court in a match-fixing case and he is, therefore, not worried about any Opposition attack on him regarding the controversy.
Though a trial court in Delhi had dropped charges against him last year, he still faces a ban on playing any form of cricket by the BCCI.
BJP has already announced 22 candidates from Kerala in its first list.
BJP also announced the first list of 54 candidates for the Tamil Nadu polls and said a second list would be issued after talks with IJK and NJP fructify in the coming days.
Asked whether BJP is still hopeful of an alliance with AIADMK, BJP CEC Secretary JP Nadda said talks are on with these parties only.
He said though candidates for Puducherry were discussed but no decision was taken today.
The CEC is chaired by party President Amit Shah and was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and several other leaders.
BJP has fielded several lawyers, a filmmaker, engineers and trade union activists from Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
Sreesanth said joining BJP was a matter of "great honour" for him and he will try his "best to change the face of Kerala".
"Whenever I wanted to join politics, it was always BJP.
So, it's a great honour to be a part of this party. It's a great honour to meet Narendra Modiji, Amit Shah sir, Arun Jaitley sir and all the party legends, especially from the Kerala side.
"I will try my best to change the face of Kerala," he said.
Dismissing the controversy that hit his cricketing career, he said, "When I have got a clean chit from the court, there is no problem. I have started a new life. Difficulties will come again but I'm strong enough to face them."
Praising BJP, he further said it was "a very truthful party".
"They (BJP) had personally helped my family during a time of crisis," he said.
"BJP is doing well in all the states. We have not seen any huge change in Kerala in the last 50-60 years. I think the state can develop a lot and it is high time to make a change," he said.