Between the conflicts within the party over fielding several candidates and various concourses of examining, Congress has finally issued its list of candidates who will be battling the 2021 Kerala Assembly election on April 6. The Congress in Kerala will contest from 92 out of 140 Assembly seats. However, the party has only declared candidates for 86 Assembly seats. The party has fielded 11 female candidates, while 55% of the candidates will be fresh faces. Many senior leaders, who have been battling for decades, have been kept out of the competition to enter new faces. Among the 86 candidates, 27-year-old Aritha Babu will be the youngest candidate of Congress.
After a five-day screening committee meeting and more gatherings with the party leadership in Delhi, Kerala Congress Pradesh Committee (KPCC) President Mullappally Ramachandran Sunday declared the list of candidates for 86 out of 92 seats that the Congress will fight from this election. The party high-command will more cautious on candidates for six seats namely Kalpetta, Nilambur, Vattiyoorkavu, Kundara, Tavanur, and Pattambi, and release this list later. The Congress has chosen to field party veteran and ex-CM Oommen Chandy from his home constituency of Puthuppally. This is after Congress cadres objected, and even hindered Oommen Chandy’s car, following news that he would be fielded from the Nemom seat this time around.
Ex-Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy is one of the several veteran Congress leaders who is fighting this election. Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala will also contest from his stronghold of Haripad in Alappuzha. The Nemom constituency in Thiruvananthapuram, one of the most debated seats, has been assigned to a sitting Member of Parliament (MP) from Vadakara, K Muraleedharan. On Friday, the Congress leaders had said that no MPs will be roped in for the election. “Ideally, no MPs should contest in Assembly polls. But, it was critical to have a bog candidate for this seat as the fight is against the BJP,” said Mullappally Ramachandran. Hours before the candidate list appeared, Muraleedharan spoke to the media, declaring that the party leaders were attempting to gain an exemption from the law that sitting MPs cannot contest in the polls.
Incidentally, the Congress leadership had found it especially difficult to choose a candidate for the Nemon constituency. According to reports, the party high-command asked Oommen Chandy and Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala to appear out of their comfort zones in Puthupally and Haripad respectively, and to contest in Nemom. However, both leaders had refused this. The names of senior leaders K Muraleedharan and Shashi Tharoor were considered for Nemom.
Introducing its youngest candidate, 27-year-old Aritha Babu, Mullappally Ramachandran said, the candidate hails from a marginalized family. “She will dedicate her time to political campaigns. We are proud to have her as our candidate,” he said. Among the other remarked women candidates are Padmaja Venugopal who will contest from Thrissur, Shanimol Usman from Aroor, and Advocate Bindhu Krishna from Kollam. However, Mahila Congress leaders have thrown the Congress leadership for not giving enough seats for women candidates. Reports had earlier said that at least 20% of the seats will be assigned to female candidates.
Among the other well-known faces, Congress had fielded film actor Dharmajan from the Scheduled Caste reserved seat in Balussery in Kozhikode district. Notably, local leaders in Balussery had earlier shown their dissatisfaction over fielding Dharmajan, who is not a native of the area. Out of the 86 candidates declared on Sunday, 46 are aged between 25 and 50 years, 22 are aged between 51 and 60 years of age, 15 are aged between 60 and 70 years, while three are above 70 years old.
According to Mullappally Ramachandran, KPCC President, 15 of the candidates are undergraduates, there are 42 who are graduates, 12 post-graduates, two Ph.D. holders and two are medical practitioners. The candidate for six seats Kalpetta and Nilambur in Wayanad, Vattiyoorkavu in Thiruvananthapuram, and Kundara in Kollam, Thavanoor in Malappuram, and Pattambi in Palakkad will be declared apparently by Monday, Mullappally said.
Between the constituent parties of the United Democratic Front (UDF), which is led by the Congress, only the Indian Muslim League (IUML) has finalized its list of candidates for 24 seats. They are yet to conclude the candidates for three more seats. UDF has chosen to back KK Rema of the Revolutionary Marxist Party (RMP) from Vadakara if she determines to contest. She is the wife of late RMP leader TP Chandrasekheran, who was earlier with the CPI(M) and was hacked to death in May 2012.