New Delhi | 33 sitting MLAs have found a place in Congress list of 83 candidates for the upcoming Kerala Assembly polls.
Sitting MLA Benny Behanan, a close confidant of Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, was denied ticket apparently over Kerala state Congress chief V M Sudheeran’s pressure against those whose names figured in the solar and land scams.
Oomen Chandy, Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala, former minister and K Karunakaran’s son K Muralidharan and daughter Padmaja Venugopal will contest this time.
NSU(I) President Roji M John, his predecessor and former NSUI President Hibi Eden, former state Youth Congress Presidents T Siddique and M Liju, P C Vishnunath MLA lead the young blood in the list. The list includes names of several young leaders with a delicate balancing act to accommodate various factions of the state unit.
AICC Vice President Rahul Gandhi’s imprint is clear on the selection. P T Thomas has been fielded from Thrikkakara in place of sitting MLA Benny Behanan. V M Sudheeran had sought denial of ticket to Benny Behanan along with two more saying their names figured in the solar and land scams. Behanan, a sitting MLA of Thrikkakara, was considered a close confidant of Chandy and the decision to drop him is said to have been taken after Rahul Gandhi’s intervention. Among others who have been fielded are former CPI-M MP A P Abdulla Kutty who joined Congress long back. Roji John has been fielded from Angamaly seat and Hibi Eden from Ernakulam. K Muralidharan has been fielded from Vattiyoorkavu assembly seat and Padmaja Venugopal from Thrissur.
Close confidants of Oommen Chandy — Revenue minister Adoor Prakash (Konni), Excise minister K Babu (Tripunithura), and sitting MLA Dominic Presentation (Kochi) find a place in the list.
Power minister Aryadan Muhammed and Cooperation minister C N Balakrishnan have opted out of contest. Muhammed’s son Arayadan Shaukat will contest from Nilambur.
A decision on Congress candidates was delayed due to the stand-off between Chandy and KPCC President V M Sudheeran over candidature of K Babu, K C Joseph, Adoor Prakash, Dominic Presentation and Behanan.
Though KPCC President V M Sudheeran had insisted that those facing corruption charges and had contested four times should make way for new faces, he had to give in after Chandy reportedly insisted that those close to him should not be denied tickets, party sources said. The list was released in Delhi by AICC General Secretary, Madhusudan Mistry, Monday night.
Welcoming the list, Chandy said Congress and UDF would fight the polls unitedly and expressed the hope that UDF will emerge victorious.
However, clearly showing his displeasure over exclusion of sitting MLA Benny Behanan from Thrikkakara, Chandy said he was saddened that he was not contesting. “Benny was a good MLA. He had performed well as parliamentary party leader inside and outside the assembly. We all wanted Benny to contest. But we also accept the high command’s decision”, Chandy told reporters soon after the congress list was released. He said former Idukki MP P T Thomas, who will be the new candidate from Thrikkakara, was well suited.
Meanwhile, an elated Thomas said he was happy the party had reposed faith in him, giving an opportunity to contest.
Chandy, KPCC President V M Sudheeran and Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala had conducted marathon sittings for a week in Delhi to finalise the list of candidates. Sudheeran said this was a very good list which will ensure the continuation of UDF government. Once the high command has released the list, every party worker will work unitedly for the victory of Congress nominees, he said, adding that as KPCC President he would campaign in all the 140 assembly constituencies. Candidates in three more seats will be announced later.
Subscribe to our email newsletter.