Congress leader Mullappally Ramachandran is on a Jana Maha Yatra now. While the Congress may still be contemplating about who to field from other constituencies in Kerala, there seems to be no ambiguity as far as Kozhikode is concerned. During the Yatra- a state wide pre-election campaign led by the state Congress Chief, Mullappally announced the name of MK Raghavan as the candidate for the Kozhikode seat.
A former General Secretary of the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC), Raghavan is the incumbent MP of the constituency. With this, the Congress has decided its candidates for two seats, including Thiruvananthapuram where the candidature of two-time MP Shashi Tharoor is unopposed. This is the first formal announcement on candidature by the Congress and that of any of the candidates belonging to the three political fronts in the state.
This is the third consecutive time that Raghavan has been given a ticket from Kozhikode. He defeated A Vijaraghavan, a senior leader of the CPI (M) in 2014 by 16,883 votes. With his defeat, the CPI (M) had suffered a setback in its attempt to wrest the constituency from the Congress. Vijayaraghavan is currently the convenor of the Left Democratic Front.
In the 2009 elections, Raghavan won the seat with the lowest margin in the state-838 votes. He secured 3,42,309 votes, which was 42.92% of the total votes polled while his opponent PA Mohammed Riaz - a young leader of the CPI (M) got 42.81% of the votes.
The rise of the 66-year old political leader can be attributed to the ‘popular’ image he has cultivated over the years, with his consecutive tenures as an MP. Even before Mullappally announced his name, posters favouring him had begun popping up in some parts of the constituency- in the northern region - on gates, walls and even on coconut trees.
“He is the most approachable political leader-more than a panchayat president- in Kozhikode. He will be there at almost all functions across households, be it a wedding or a funeral. The credit for securing Central funds for Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences primarily goes to him and also for the development of the Kozhikode Railway Station that falls in A1 category," a native of Mankav in Kozhikode says.
"He would spend his MP fund almost fully. He would personally go to government offices for getting things done for people. He would personally make calls, if his quota is full for getting something done he would recommend other people’s representatives to include a particular issue in their quota for which he won’t derive any political benefit,” he adds.
How tough the fight this time is for Raghavan would be clear after the LDF and the BJP declare their candidates.