Rahul Gandhi to contest from Wayanad, Shafi from Vadakara: Full list of Congress candidates in Kerala

In Wayanad, after much speculation, the party is once again banking on Rahul Gandhi to cause another Congress wave in the general election. He will face the CPI leader Annie Raja.
Shashi Tharoor, Rahul Gandhi and Shafi Parambil
Shashi Tharoor, Rahul Gandhi and Shafi Parambil
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A day after former Kerala Chief Minister and Congress stalwart the late K Karunakaran’s daughter Padmaja Venugopal joined the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Congress has decided to reshuffle their candidate list ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. The party has nominated K Muraleedharan, Padmaja’s brother and sitting Member of Parliament from the Vadakara constituency, to contest from Thrissur. Another surprise candidate is in Vadakara, where the Congress is fielding Shafi Parambil, who had won the Palakkad legislative seat by beating the BJP’s E Sreedharan in 2021. In Wayanad, after much speculation, the party is once again banking on Rahul Gandhi to cause another Congress wave in the general election. He will face the CPI leader Annie Raja.

Both Vadakara and Thrissur have strong candidates from the different fronts. Shafi will be facing the CPI(M) stalwart KK Shailaja in Vadakara, while Muraleedharan will have a triangular fight with the BJP’s most talked-about candidate, actor-politician Suresh Gopi, as well as the CPI strongman VS Sunil Kumar. Muraleedharan was initially slated to run from the Vadakara constituency while TN Prathapan was expected to be the party’s candidate from Thrissur, but political observers view Muraleedharan’s shift to Thrissur as a shrewd move to resist the BJP. 

Among other big names, K Sudhakaran, the president of the Kerala Congress Pradesh Committee and incumbent MP, is contesting from Kannur, where the LDF is fielding MV Jayarajan. And in Thiruvananthapuram, three-time MP Shashi Tharoor will contest for the fourth time, against the LDF’s Pannyan Raveendran and the BJP’s Rajeev Chandrasekhar. The fight in Pathanamthitta will also be watched, with incumbent Congress MP Anto Antony facing CPI(M) strongman Thomas Isaac and the BJP’s Anil Antony, who had jumped ship from the Congress last April. Amid speculation that the BJP may field newly defected Padmaja Venugopal in Chalakkudy, the Congress has placed its trust on the incumbent MP Benny Bahanan. 

Read: LDF finalises candidates for Lok Sabha elections: Full list

In Alappuzha, the only Lok Sabha seat won by the LDF in the last election, the All India Congress Committee general secretary KC Venugopal will face the sitting MP AM Ariff. 

The party is banking on its incumbent MPs in most of the seats:

Rajmohan Unnithan - Kasargod

MK Raghavan - Kozhikode

VK Sreekandan - Palakkad

Remya Haridas - Alathur

Benny Bahanan - Chalakudy

Hibi Eden - Ernakulam

Dean Kuriakose - Idukki

Kodikkunnil Suresh - Mavelikkara

Adoor Prakash - Attingal

A surprise omission is TN Prathapan, sitting MP of Thrissur and a strong candidate. Prior to the Congress party’s decision to field Muraleedharan from Thrissur, party workers had already begun campaigning for Prathapan. However, following the latest development, Prathapan said that he is willing to step aside from the contest if the party deems it necessary. 

“That is how politics is. It is unpredictable. It also depends on the situation and timing of a situation. After taking into consideration the recent developments, the party has decided to field Muraleedharan and I support that decision,” Prathapan told the media and said that he wishes to see the Congress party win from Thrissur. “For me, it is the party that matters, not whether I contest or not,” he added. 

Among the remaining four seats of the Congress-led United Democratic Front in Kerala, two go to the party ally Indian Union Muslim League - Malappuram (MP Abdussamad Samadani) and Ponnani (ET Mohammed Basheer), one goes to the Kerala Congress (Francis George in Kottayam) and one to the RSP (NK Premachandran in Kollam)

Meanwhile the BJP’s celebrity candidate Suresh Gopi reacted to the developments by stating that he is not bothered about who contests against him and that he is sure of a victory from Thrissur. “Even if candidates are changed, it is the voters who decide who will win,” he said.

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