Political parties in Kerala gear up for assembly polls

With dates of state assembly polls expected to be announced in few days time, major political parties in Kerala are gearing up for the election with leaders engaged in discussions on finalising their list of candidates.

Thiruvananthapuram: With dates of state assembly polls expected to be announced in few days time, major political parties in Kerala are gearing up for the election with leaders engaged in discussions on finalising their list of candidates.

The process of giving finishing touch to candidates' list has speeded up in the Congress, the lead partner in the ruling United Democratic Front, with Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, KPCC President V M Sudheeran and Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala holding talks with district leaders.

The sub-committee of each district have given a list of candidates of their respective constituencies with more than six probable names to the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee.
KPCC wanted to finalise the list in a few days time and submit it to the party high command for approval, party sources here said.

Discussions with Front partners on seat sharing was also progressing.

The second largest partner in the ruling UDF, Indian Union Muslim League, which contested 24 seats last time, is likely to demand more seats this time.

Other constituents, Kerala Congress (M) and JD(U), which contested 15 and six seats in the last polls, have already demanded more seats. RSP and KC-J, are the other two minor parties in the UDF.

Deliberations are also going on in full-swing in CPI-M, which heads the LDF opposition, in finalising the candidates. Key discussion in the party is over the candidature of CPI-M veteran and state Opposition leader V S Achuthanandan.

As per reports, the focus of debate is whether both 93-year-old Achuthanandan and politburo member Pinarayi Vijayan should contest the polls and who should lead the Front campaign.

Party General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, who attended the party secretariat held here yesterday, took stock of political situation in the state and discussed the issue of candidates.

District Committees of the party would meet again in the coming days and discuss on candidates.

Later, the suggestions of the district committees would be debated at the party state secretariat to be held on March 11 and 12, followed by state committee, party sources said, adding, "a final decision on list of candidates is expected by then."

CPI-M had contested 93 seats in the 2011 polls. Discussions with front partners on seat sharing were also on in the left camp.

CPI, the second largest partner in the LDF, contested 27 seats last time. Janata Dal (S), NCP and Congress (S) are the other minor partners of LDF.

CPI State Secretary Kanam Rajendran has said their candidates' list would be announced on March 19. The party council meeting here on March 11 would lay down the guidelines for selecting candidates.

Kerala Congress (B), led by former minister R Balakrishna Pillai, has already severed its ties with the UDF. Even though the party has not officially joined LDF, it has already extended support to the Left camp opposing UDF.

Its lone MLA and Pillai's son, K B Ganesh Kumar has openly stated that he would like to contest from his home constituency Pathanapuram in Kollam district. However, LDF has not responded to the request.

Similarly, KC-M rebel leader and former government Chief Whip P C George, who was suspended from the party, has also extended support to the Left. He has also expressed his desire to contest from his constituency Poojar in Idukki district.

Another major change in the coalition equation is that RSP which was with LDF in 2011 polls is now with UDF, after the party snapped its ties over differences of seat sharing in the last Lok Sabha polls.

BJP, which has not tasted victory in the assembly and Lok Sabha polls in the state, is in an upbeat mood after its good performance in the recent civic polls.

The party is likely to have tie-up with new political outfit Bharthiya Dharma Jana Sena formed by Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana (SNDP) Yogam, a social organisation of the powerful backward Ezhava community,led by Vellappally Natesan.

Natesan had gone to Delhi to meet BJP president Amit Shah to discuss issues regarding the tie-up in the state.

BJP State President Kummanam Rajasekharan and former BJP state president, V Muraleedharan, who is Election Committee Chairman, would hold a meeting with Natesan before announcement of the alliance, party sources added. 

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