The Bharatiya Janata Party on Thursday announced Kummanam Rajasekharan to take on Congress MP and writer Shashi Tharoor in Kerala, but withheld names of candidates who will contest from two other key contests.
Rajasekharan’s name has been doing the rounds since earlier this month he resigned as Mizoram Governor and returned to Kerala for the poll campaigning. He is a former BJP Kerala president.
But the party said it will announce later names to two other key contests in Kerala— the Pathanamthitta seat, the nerve center of the Sabarimala temple protests, and the Thrissur seat, where it expects to make progress.
The BJP has been facing issues to select candidates for these two seats. At least four leaders wanted to contest from the Pathanamthitta seat, Mint reported on 19 March. The party has been pressurising an initially indifferent ally Bharat Dharma Jana Sena’s leader Thushar Vellappally to contest from the Thrissur seat.
The BJP list also features a new face in Kerala’s poll fray, KS Radhakrishnan. The former public service commission chairman, who has been working closely with the saffron party for some time and recently joined the party officially, will contest from Alappuzha.
Surprisingly, Tom Vadakkan, the Congress spokesperson who joined the BJP earlier this month and widely speculated to be wanting the Thrissur seat, did not figure in the list. Vadakkan’s two choices were reportedly Thrissur and Ernakulam.
With the party trying to rope in Vellappally for Thrissur, and announcing that its Rajya Sabha MP and union minister of state for tourism Alphons Kannanthanam will contest from Ernakulam, it seems Vadakkan might end up without a seat despite his high-profile exit from Congress. The Congress has argued that Vadakkan any no mass appeal, the reason why they denied him a ticket for at least three past parliamentary election in Kerala, causing his exit.
The BJP released its first list of 184 candidates from 20 states on Thursday evening, in which it said Prime Minister Narendra Modi will continue to contest from Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, and party president Amit Shah will replace Lal Krishna Advani, former deputy prime minister under the first National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, from the Gandhinagar seat in Gujarat.