Congress picks Kerala bypoll candidates after hectic parleys

Congress picks Kerala bypoll candidates after hectic parleys
Shanimol Usman, P Mohan Raj and T J Vinod.

Thiruvananthapuram: The All India Congress Committee on Saturday cleared four names for the Kerala Assembly by-elections, scheduled on October 21.

While former MLA K Mohankumar will contest the Vatiyoorkavu seat, Kochi deputy mayor T J Vinod has been named for the Ernakulam constituency. Senior party leader Shanimol Usman will be fielded in Aroor and former Pathanamthita district party chief A P Mohanraj in Konni.

At the Manjeswaram constituency, the fifth seat going for bypoll, the Congress ally Indian Union Muslim League is contesting and its candidate has already begun campaigning.

The by-elections were necessitated because of resignation of three sitting Congress MLAs -- K. Muraleedharan, Hibi Eden and Adoor Prakash -- as well as CPM leader A M Ariff. They were elected to the Lok Sabha in May.

Shanimol had contested against Ariff in the Alappuzha Lok Sabha constituency. Though she lost, the vote share she managed to accumulate in Aroor, which is part of the constituency, worked in her favour.

Monday is the last day for filing of nominations. The CPM has already named its candidates, but the BJP-led NDA's list is yet to be announced.

In all four constituencies, the state leadership had put forth only the names of these candidates. Though former MP K V Thomas had sought to include his name in the panel for Ernakulam, the other senior leaders persuaded him to withdraw his demand.

Though Adoor Prakash had made a strong pitch to make his nominee Robin Peter the Konni candidate, Mohan Raj was finally picked.

Instead of Konni, Congress (I) group got the Aroor seat, which traditionally belongs to the A group of the party. And the political affairs committee member in Aroor, Shanimol Usman, was chosen after long talks.

Both Vinod and Mohan Raj are contesting to the state assembly for the first time.

Senior Congress leaders Oommen Chandy, Ramesh Chennithala, Mullappally Ramachandran and Benny Behanan took part in Friday’s discussions. They finalised the list after taking inputs from senior leaders A K Antony and K C Venugopal.

The counting would be held on October 24.

Know the candidates

Shanimol Usman is a member of the political affairs committee of the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC). She had contested in last Lok Sabha polls from Alappuzha. She has worked as AICC secretary, and Mahila Congress state president. She is the first woman municipal chairperson of Alappuzha municipality.

P Mohan Raj worked as the Pathanamthitta DCC president for 11 years. Currently, he is the president of the Pathanamthitta urban co-operative bank. Mohan Raj had been municipal councillor for 23 years and Pathanamthitta municipal chairman for five years.

T J Vinod is the Ernakulam DCC president and Cochin Corporation deputy mayor. He has been a councillor for long.

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