Social media begins 'star wars' ahead of Kerala assembly polls

(From left) Congress leaders V T Balram, Shafi Parambil and Sabarinadhan, CPM's A A Rahim, M Swaraj and M B Rajesh

Political parties in Kerala are yet to start formal talks on candidate selection for the assembly polls. However, social media warriors have not only drawn the battle lines but even 'fielded' candidates in some constituencies.

Hardcore supporters of both the ruling CPM and opposition Congress, the two major political players in the state, have started predicting intense fight in some key constituencies, including Thrithala, the constituency of Congress young turk VT Balram.

Social media users supporting the CPM hope that the party would be assigning one of its young stars to wrest Thrithala, a CPM bastion until 2011, from Balaram. Balram won the seat for the first time in 2011 and defended it in 2016 with an improved margin.

CPM's cyber warriors predict that the party would be sending M Swaraj, the Thripunithura MLA, to Thrithala this time. They hope that the party can wrest the seat riding on the popularity of Swaraj, known for his sharp attack on political rivals. Swaraj and Balram have come face to face in the Assembly as well as on social media on multiple occasions, triggering some adrenaline rush for their fans.

Interestingly, during the 2016 polls also there were reports that Swaraj may be fielded in Thrithala. However, he was finally given

a seemingly more important responsibility – to wrest Thripunithura seat from Congress leader K Babu. Swaraj emerged winner defeating five-time legislator and former excise minister Babu. Swaraj is most likely to be fielded in Thripunithura this time too, much to the dismay of the cyber comrades who anticipate a Balram vs Swaraj poll T20.

However, Swaraj is not the only option left for the comrades on social media. It could be former MP M B Rajesh or DYFI national president Muhammed Riyas too, if not Swaraj, they say. Talk doing the rounds is that CPM would be fielding Rajesh, former Palakkad MP, in the upcoming assembly polls. Rajesh, who lost the Lok Sabha polls to Congress's V K Sreekandan, is likely to be given a seat in Palakkad district. The CPM supporters want to see him either in Thrithala against Balram or in Palakkad facing Youth Congress president Shafi Parambil.

Both Balram and Shafi are most likely to be fielded again in their sitting seats by the Congress.

Speaking to Onmanorama in an interview in October, Rajesh had rubbished speculation about his


He said, as a typical CPM man, it was all up to the party to decide.

DYFI state secretary A A Rahim's candidature also is the talk of cyber town. Social media is celebrating unconfirmed reports that Rahim may be fielded in Kalamassery constituency, a Muslim League stronghold represented by former minister V K Ibrahim Kunju. Rahim, a firebrand CPM activist who is known also a popular figure in TV debates, can win Kalamassery especially since Kunju is facing probe in the infamous Palarivattom flyover scam, the CPM supporters believe. However, it is to be seen if UDF will be fielding Kunju in Kalamassery this time.

Rahim, a native of Thiruvananthapuram, had his earlier electoral outing in 2011 when he contested unsuccessfully against Congress's Varkala Kahar from Varkala constituency.

All rumours: CPM

CPM acting state secretary A Vijayaraghavan told Onmanorama that the party has not started any discussion on candidate selection. "At present, our focus is on strengthening organisation. Only after that, we will start discussions on candidate selection. There will be a due process for that," he said.

More youth for sure: Satheesan

Congress leader V D Satheesan said there is a strong demand within the party to field more youngsters this time. "We want more winnable youngsters in the fray," he said.

So, the season of speculations begins in the run-up to polls.

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