The candidate selection in Kanjirappally constituency has become a hot topic within both the LDF and UDF with the major constituents of the ruling and opposition fronts staking claim for the seat.
Kanjirappally, one of the nine seats in the Kottayam district, became a matter of dispute as the alliance equations in the state changed with the split of the Kerala Congress (M). While the undivided KC(M) was an important ally of the Congress-led UDF, the party split into two last year and the faction led by Jose K Mani is with the CPM-led LDF now.
In 2016, KC(M)'s N Jayaraj contested as the UDF candidate against CPI's V B Binu and emerged victorious. Now, Jayaraj, a strong supporter of Jose K Mani, is part of the LDF. In the Left front, both the CPI and KC(M) are staking claim for the seat. It's a matter of prestige for both the parties to contest from the seat.
On the other hand, the UDF is also facing a similar issue with both the Congress and the Joseph faction of the Kerala Congress standing firm on their demand to contest from the seat. Both the LDF and the UDF are scheduled to discuss the matter in Thiruvananthapuram on Monday.
With the uncertainty over seat sharing going on in both the major fronts, a handful of names are being discussed as probable candidates in both the alliances.
Jayaraj is most likely to be the LDF candidate if the seat is allotted to KC(M). He has been representing the constituency since 2011. Before that he represented the Vazhoor constituency in 2006. Vazhoor is no more a separate constituency.
Both the KC(M) and CPI claim to have considerable influence in the Kanjirappally constituency. While Jayaraj's father K Narayana Kurup had represented the erstwhile Vazhoor constituency five times, the current CPI state secretary Kanam Rajendran has won twice from there in 1987 and 1991.
Rajendran hails from Kanam in Kanjirappally constituency and it would be a tough decision for his party to leave the seat to KC(M), the new partner in the LDF. There were reports that the CPI was ready to leave the seat to KC(M). However, prominent CPI leader in the district V B Binu told Onmanorama that such a decision has not been taken. “The CPI's stance is that we deserve to contest from there,” he said. Binu may get another chance to contest from Kanjirappally if the seat is allotted to the CPI.
Whoever be the LDF candidate, the constituency will witness the leaders who contested against each other last time, campaigning for their former opponents.
Congress vs Joseph
In the UDF, both the Congress and the Joseph faction of the Kerala Congress have been discussing several names and probable candidates.
The Congress is hoping to take over the seat from the KC(M) along with Ettumanoor, Changanassery and Poonjar. The Joseph faction's stance is that they would not give up any of these seats as they have already given up the Pala seat to Mani C Kappen, MLA, who recently left the LDF and joined the UDF.
However, a top source in the party said they would compromise on one more seat, probably Poonjar or Kanjirappally.
The Joseph faction is considering former Kottayam district panchayat president Thomas Kunnappally or former district panchayat member Ajith Muthiramala as their candidate.
From the Congress camp, more names are heard. Prominent woman leader Lathika Subhash's name is discussed as a frontrunner for candidature. She is the Mahila Congress state president. Sources said Lathika Subhash's name is discussed more in Ettumanoor, her home constituency.
A top source in Congress said the party was considering young and fresh faces in Kanjirappally.
All India Professionals Congress Kottayam chapter president Vinu J George is among the probables' list, sources said. Vinu, an assistant professor of Political Science in KE College, Mannanam is also the Kottayam district president of the KPCC Gandhi Darshan Samithi.
Former DCC president's Tomy Kallani is another senior leader whose name is doing the rounds.
Kanjirappally is also among the BJP's priority list. In the 2016 polls, BJP's VN Manoj had polled over 30,000 votes there.