Palakkad bypoll: BJP scouts for candidates after Metro Man Sreedharan backs out

While the BJP is contemplating the name of Sobha Surendran, Padmaja Venugopal is also being talked about as a possible candidate.
E Sreedharan
E Sreedharan
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Metro Man E Sreedharan, who was a surprise candidate of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the Palakkad assembly seat in the 2021 election, has backed out from another contest this year. A by-election was necessitated when the Palakkad legislator Shafi Parambil got elected to the parliament from Vadakara this year. Shafi, a strong candidate of the Congress, had famously defeated Sreedharan, touted as one of the bigshots of the BJP in the 2021 assembly election. With Sreedharan, now aged 92, backing out, the BJP is on the lookout for another candidate for the by-election. 

After its first ever victory from a Lok Sabha constituency in Kerala this year, with actor-politician Suresh Gopi winning Thrissur, the BJP has grown more confident of its chances in the state where the party always fell to a distant third, below the CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front and the Congress-led United Democratic Front. With Sreedharan’s candidacy, the BJP had managed to come in second place in Palakkad assembly in 2021, with a loss margin of only 3859 votes. This has raised the party’s faith in opening an account in the 140-member Kerala Assembly too. 

The names that the BJP is contemplating for the by-election include that of Sobha Surendran who finished second in 2016 in Palakkad. Sobha had managed to raise the BJP vote share more than once, when she finished third in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls from Attingal and then again in the 2024 polls from Alappuzha. Another name that has started to get traction is Padmaja Venugopal, daughter of Congress veteran and four-time Chief Minister K Karunakaran, who defected to the BJP in March this year. She campaigned for Suresh Gopi in Thrissur, against her brother and Congress leader K Muraleedharan, who ended up in third place this year. 

So far, the BJP has been able to win only a single Assembly constituency in Kerala in all these years. That was in Nemom in Thiruvananthapuram in the 2016 election, which too, the party lost five years later. O Rajagopal, one of the senior-most members of the party, had become Nemom’s legislator in 2016, two years after giving a close fight to Shashi Tharoor for the Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha constituency. But in 2021, V Sivankutty of the CPI(M) beat the BJP’s Kummanam Rajasekharan and reclaimed the seat.

(With inputs from IANS)

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