Thiruvananthapuram: With the Lok Sabha elections round the corner, speculation are are rife over the likely candidates to be fielded by the traditional rival political fronts in Kerala.
Kerala has 20 Lok Sabha seats of which the Congress-led UDF had won 19 seats in 2019, thus literally wiping out the Pinarayi Vijayan-led LDF.
While the LDF is under pressure due to the numerous alleged scams involving its leaders, the rout in the recent Puthuppally Assembly bypoll, where Chandy Oommen, the son of two-time former Chief Minister late Oommen Chandy, won by election by a staggering margin of over 37,000 votes, has dealt further blows to the ruling party.
Hence, Vijayan will surely do all it takes to improve upon LDF’s 2019 tally when the nation goes to the polls next year. Accordingly, he appears to be trying to bridge the gap with those who have kept out of the party’s primary political activities, including two-time former Finance Minister Thomas Isaac, sitting legislators K.K. Shailaja and K.T. Jaleel (both were surprise exclusions from his Cabinet when he retained office after the 2021 Assembly polls), and Kannur strongman P. Jayarajan.
State Minister for SC/ST, K. Radhakrishnan, a close aide of Vijayan, is also another person who might be considered for ticket.
Those under consideration from the CPI also include Rajya Sabha member Binoy Viswam and former state minister V.S. Sunil Kumar.
The above leaders are in strong contention for being fielded from seats which the Left thinks they can win because of their popularity.
Meanwhile, the Congress is also searching for candidates keeping the winnability factor in mind.
Veteran legislator and former state minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, when asked about the speculation about Achu Oommen Chandy – the younger daughter of Oommen Chandy – being fielded as a candidate, said that even though no such process has been initiated yet, “she is our girl and a very capable personality”.
“We all like her and none will have any problem in accepting her as a candidate. But then again, candidate selection is not done by us,” said Radhakrishnan.
The BJP has also started scouting for names, though the ones that are doing the rounds have not tasted much electoral success.
The names include state BJP President K. Surendran, superstar and former Rajya Sabha member Suresh Gopi, Sobha Surendran, Union MoS for External Affairs V. Muraleedharan, and former Mizoram Governor Kummannem Rajasekheran.
Even though it’s early days, the three political fronts have set their sights on the polls and in the coming weeks and months, the list can only get bigger.