Elections have arrived so has the season of speculations. One may hear about a startling move any moment. There may be a candidate behind every smile, a leader behind every decision on selecting the candidate. Meanwhile, the voters are already busy speculating their candidates. In fact leaders have already made up their minds about the candidates, but will release the list of names officially in the days to come. Here we consider a few likely surprise picks for a few assembly seats in central Kerala, primarily Kottayam.
1. What was the secret shared by C F Thomas?
The long-time Changanassery MLA CF Thomas died last year. It is rumoured that he had conveyed secretly the name of his successor in the constituency to P J Joseph, who headed the Kerala Congress (Mani) party before it faced schism a few months before his death. Once, Joseph had referred to this matter himself. If the information is true then C F's "word" would be decisive in finalising the candidate in Changanassery, which is in Kottayam district. However, Joseph says he would not reveal the secret now.
Mons Joseph, MLA, also said that the secret is known only to Joseph. He has not discussed the matter with anyone in the party, he added.
Janadhipathiya Kerala Congress chairman Dr K C Joseph, however, has a different take on the issue. "If there is such a secret then will it not be easy for them to make a decision? After deciding the candidate you just need to say that it is on the basis of the secret information," he said.
2. What happened at the Pawar-Kappan meet?
In early February, the Pala legislator Mani C Kappan formed his own party after the NCP expelled him for joining the opposition United Democratic Front. Prior to the crucial move, the MLA had met NCP's national leader Sharad Pawar with whom he shares a 38-year-old association. So far it was guessed what could have transpired between them.
Now, Kappan reveals the secret: "I decided to quit the Left Democratic Front (LDF) when the discussions between Praful Patel and Pinarayi Vijyan over the Pala seat failed. (NCP Kerala chief) T P Peethambaran was entrusted with the task of taking the decision. However, Peethambaran said let Pawar announce the decision. That was the first lapse on their part."
"In the meantime CPM General Secretary Sitaram Yechury contacted Pawar again as the latter is the leader of the Third Front. Yechury urged him to ensure that NCP does not leave the LDF in Kerala. Pawar came under pressure. I understood what was happening. I told plainly whatever I felt. "I am leaving. I will contest from Pala and come out victorious. Our ties do not end here. I will come to you for every need." Pawar didn't say anything. He just held my hand. He blessed me from his heart.”
3. Is Sindhumol Jacob that surprise candidate?
Initially, Kerala Congress (Mani) chairman Jose K Mani's name was doing the rounds as the likely candidate for Pala or Kaduthuruthy seats in Kottayam district. But now it is almost certain that he will contest from Pala. In that case who will contest from Kaduthuruthy? Who will be the candidate against Mons Joseph, MLA, who is siding with the P J Joseph faction? Will Uzhavoor block panchayat vice-president Sindhumol Jacob contest from Kaduthuruthy? Kerala Congress (M) leaders had held discussion with Sindhumol recently, giving rise to speculations.
"They asked if I am ready to contest as an independent candidate. People expect me to be in the fray. Let the party decide," she said.
Sindhumol has been a member of the CPM for the past 15 years. However, she has never contested on the CPM election symbol. She has fought polls on the Umbrella symbol. Will the party seek an independent symbol in place of Kerala Congress (Mani)'s Two Leaves in Kaduthuruthy?
Suppose if Sindhumol is not chosen for Kaduthuruthy? Where else she will be considered?
"Discussions are on about contesting from Piravom too," she said!
4. Is K J Thomas being considered for Poonjar?
If Minister M M Mani does not contest from Udumbanchola in Idukki district then K J Thomas will be in the fray for CPM from a constituency in the Kottayam district. Is Poonjar, another set in the latter district, marked for the veteran Marxist? The party wants one of its state secretariat members to contest from Central Travancore. Thomas can expect a ministerial berth if CPM were to come to power again. His name was in the list of probable candidates quite unexpectedly. Thomas who had won from Kanjirappally in 1987 has been holding party responsibilities since then. Meanwhile, the CPM has decided to allot four seats to the Kerala Congress (M) in Kottayam district.
5. What will be Bijimol's position henceforth?
Is E S Bijimol, the Peerumedu MLA, set to become the Idukki district secretary of CPI? If that happens she will be the first woman district secretary of the party. As the CPI has decided to keep off the electoral fray those who contested three consecutive terms, Bijimol cannot contest this time. Or else the CPI will have to grant exemption to field her. The party state leadership believes that Bijimol who intervenes in public issues and people's issues effectively should be made the district secretary. The names of Vazhoor Soman and K K Sivaraman also figure in the list of probable candidates for Peerumedu constituency.
6. Who will take on ex-CM Oommen Chandy?
The CPM state leadership meeting held the other day discussed at length about the candidate to be fielded against ex-Chief Minister Oommen Chandy in Puthuppally, another assembly constituency in Kottayam district. The expectations of the party have risen following its victory in recent local body polls and the support of Kerala Congress (M).
The CPM has not finalised its candidate yet as it is still not sure whether Oommen Chandy will contest or his son Chandy Oommen will be in the fray. If Chandy Oommen enters the fray then young Jaick C Thomas will fight against him as he had done earlier against Chandy senior.
Meanwhile, the shortlisting of likely candidates to be fielded against Oommen Chandy is on. The CPM had reportedly tried to get a local leader of Congress and close confidante of Oommen Chandy to cross over and contest against him. However, the move failed. The names of K M Radhakrishnan, Jaick C Thomas and Flory Mathew are being discussed.
In 2016, Jaick's name was recommended by the state committee. Will the direction on candidature come from CPM head quarters this time as well?
7. Will Aparajita Raja contest from Kottayam?
Will Aparajita Raja, the daughter of CPI national general secretary D Raja, contest from the Kottayam assembly constituency?
"No, there has been no such discussion. All these are only in the realm of speculation. There is no point discussing it. The party has to take a decision on such matters," she clarified.
It is speculated that the CPI will take over Kottayam in place of the Kanjirapally seat and field Aparajita from there. The LDF is set to allot the latter constituency to Kerala Congress (M) which had won from here while part of the UDF.