Thiruvananthapuram: The Communist Party of India (CPI), the second-largest constituent in the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) government in Kerala, will put up a political fight in 2019 to dislodge two-time MP Shashi Tharoor from the prestigious Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha constituency.
Top sources told Onmanorama the CPI is keen on fielding a former MP from the constituency to wrest the seat. After P K Vasudevan Nair’s demise, Panniyan Ravindran had won from this constituency in a bypoll in late 2005 when the UDF was in power in the state. Panniyan had trounced Congress candidate VS Sivakumar by a margin of 74,200 votes.
However, Congress wrested the Thiruvananthapuram seat in 2009 from the LDF after fielding Tharoor as a surprise candidate. The former diplomat then retained the seat in the 2014 Lok Sabha election after securing a hard-fought win over BJP's O Rajagopal. Bennet Abraham, the LDF candidate, finished a poor third behind Rajagopal, the current MLA of Nemom. The CPI’s choice of candidate had then drawn flak even from LDF circles.
The CPI top brass is veering to the idea that Panniyan has goodwill in the constituency and it would be difficult to dislodge Tharoor in Thiruvananthapuram without a political fight.
Panniyan is reportedly reluctant to contest, but the CPI top brass is putting pressure on him to enter the poll fray. No formal discussions have been initiated on this, but top sources in the CPI said this was the only way to wrest Thiruvananthupuram seat.
Tharoor is almost certain to be the Congress candidate as he was among the 44 Congress MPs who could resist the Modi wave in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
Tharoor had won by a meagre margin of 15,470 votes in the 2014 election. He secured 2,97,806 votes (34.09%) against Rajagopal's 2,82,336 votes (32.32%). The third-placed CPI candidate could poll only 2,48,941 votes (28.50%).
In Tharoor's debut election in 2009, he had defeated CPI's P Ramachandran Nair by a margin of 99,998 votes. The Thiruvananthapuram seat was then held by the CPI as its candidate PKV had won in the 2004 general elections, defeating Congress' Sivakumar, who subsequently lost again in the bypoll next year to Panniyan.
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