Thiruvananthapuram: Filing of nominations for 20 Lok Sabha seats in Kerala going to polls on April 10 closed on Saturday, setting the stage for keen duels between Congress-led UDF and the CPI(M)-controlled LDF in all the constituencies.
Though always a distant third in Kerala`s bipolar polity without ever winning a single seat, BJP is making its best efforts this time to turn the electoral battle into a three- cornered in at least a couple of seats -- the state capital and northern most Kasargod.
Fledgling Aam Admi Party (AAP) has also fielded candidates in most seats including noted writer Sarah Joseph in Thrissur, journalist Anita Pratap in Ernakulam and former IPS officer Ajit Joy in Thiruvananthapuram.
According to official sources, over 250 nominations, including dummy nominees and independents, have been filed in the constituencies across the state. Scrutiny will take place on March 24 and the last date for withdrawal is March 26.
Congress, which put up a splendid showing in 2009 by winning 13 out of 17 seats it contested, is contesting only 15 this time, giving away two of its sitting seats to allies Socialist Janata Democratic (SJD) and the RSP, which quit the LDF after the declaration of elections.
In LDF, CPI(M) is contesting 10 seats and CPI four while independents have been fielded in five seats, all of them from the kitty of the lead partner, and Janata Deal (S) one.
Among the Congress candidates in the fray are five Union Ministers-- Shashi Tharoor (Thiruvananthapuram), K V Thomas (Ernakulam), Mullapally Ramachandran (Vatakara), Kodikunnil Suresh (Mavelikkara) and K C Venugopoal (Alappuzha).
Other key Congress nominees are P C Chacko (Chalakkudi), K Sudhakaran (Kannur), M I Shanawas (Wayanad), P K Dhanapalan (Thrissur) and Anto Antony (Pathanamthitta), all sitting MPs.
State Youth Congress president Dean Kuriakose (Idukki), Mahila Congress leader Bindhu Krishna (Attingal) and former Y C President T Siddique (Kasargode) are making their maiden bid to enter the Lok Sabha.
SJD leader and former Union minister M P Veerendrakumar is contesting from Palakkad as the UDF nominee.
E Ahamed, Union Minister, and IUML leader is seeking his sixth bid to Parliament from the party bastion Malappuram while his colleague E T Muhammad Basheer is back in the field in nearby Ponnani.
Prominent CPI(M) contestants include party`s polit bureau member M A Baby (Kollam) and sitting MPs P Karunakaran (Kasargod), M B Rajesh (Palakkad), P K Biju (Alathur) and A Sampath (Attingal).
Independents roped in by the LDF include veteran cine actor and humorist Innocent (Chalakkudi) and former IAS officer Christie Fernandes besides former Congress leaders Peelipose Thomas (Pathanamhitta) and Abdulrahiman (Ponnani).
The BJP is making its best efforts in Thiruvananthapuram by fielding its senior most leader and former union minister O Rajagopal.