'I am not even a BJP activist': Party's candidate choice for Mananthavady seat won't contest

C Manikandan

Sulthan Bathery: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is in a spot in the Wayanad district over selection of candidates for the Kerala Assembly Election to be held in three weeks. In two of the three constituencies here the party has to find suitable candidates even as it released the list for 115 constituencies on Sunday. In a surprise development, C Manikandan, the candidate named for the Mananthavady constituency, announced that he won't be in the poll fray.

Manikandan, reportedly the first graduate from the Paniya community, was shocked to learn that he has been named as the BJP candidate from this constituency for the April 6 polls.

When BJP released its list of candidates on Sunday, it had carried the name Manikuttan (a name as seen on Manikandan's Facebook profile) against the listing on the Mananthavady seat.

Manikandan had then mistaken it for someone else. When it was learnt that it was in fact he had been nominated, Manikandan immediately clarified that he is not in the electoral race. He was advised by his friends and family to opt out.

Manikandan is in fact not even an activist of the party and had no plans to contest the polls.

The Mananthavady constituency is reserved for candidates from the tribal community. It was initially short-listed for fielding a prominent local leader, including the BJP district general secretary.

It is suspected that Manikandan was named by vested interests to nix the chances of someone from the party ranks who had eyed to contest from here. The party is facing severe factionalism which is likely to spoil its electoral show in several constituencies across the state.

The Congress candidate P K Jayalakshmi is fancied to win from Mananthavady.

With Manikandan's exit, BJP has no candidate in two of the three constituencies in Wayanad. For the Bathery seat too the candidate list has no name. Only for the Kalpetta seat a candidate has been announced.

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