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In the run-up to the Kerala assembly elections. the Bharatiya Janata Party unit in the state on Wednesday announced a 16-member state election committee which included Metroman E Sreedharan, who recently joined the party, said a party statement.

The decision was taken with the permission of the party national president JP Nadda, the statement says.

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Apart from Sreedharan, the committee includes party chief in Kerala K Surendran, Union minister V Muraleedharan, national vice president AP Abdullakutty, former state presidents Kummanam Rajasekharan, O Rajagopal MLA, CK Padmanabhan, PK Krishnadas and state general secretaries MT Ramesh.

Meanwhile, the candidates' selection is progressing in the party and a crucial discussion is expected ahead of Union Home Minister Amit Shah's visit to the state on 7 March, where he is expected to attend the concluding function Vijaya Yatra led by Surendran in the state capital.

Sreedharan's induction

Sreedharan joined the BJP last month in Malappuram during the party's Vijaya Yatra.

He had announced his decision on 18 February and said: "If BJP comes to power in Kerala, I am ready to become the chief minister. The party has not asked me till now as it is too premature. But if BJP asks me, I am willing to take up the post and show how a state can be run efficiently like we are running DMRC."

BJP's hopes

The Metroman joining the party has given a boost to the saffron front for making huge electoral inroads in Kerala, one of the toughest political terrains for the party.

The BJP in Kerala hopes Sreedharan's entry will boost the party's vote share especially by winning the support of the middle class.

Party senior leader B Radhakrishna Menon said Sreedharan's decision to work with the BJP gives new hope and expectation for Kerala's development.

"His decision to join the BJP has given a boost to the morale of our party workers in the state. The development of Kerala will be a main issue in the coming Assembly polls," Menon told news agency PTI.

But the two major players in the state politics-- ruling CPI(M)-led LDF and the Congress-led UDF--seem to not be bothered about the 88-year-old technocrat's induction.

Election dates in Kerala

The Election Commission of India (ECI) has announced the schedule for assembly elections in West Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Puducherry.

Voting for five assembly elections to these four states and one Union Territory will be held between 27 March and 29 April, the EC has said.

Tamil Nadu and Kerala will vote in a single round on 6 April. Puducherry will also vote on the same day.

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