Congress' strategic shuffle: K Muraleedharan to contest in Thrissur, Shafi Parambil in Vadakara

Reacting to the development, Congress has nominated K Muraleedharan, Padmaja's brother, to contest from the Thrissur constituency, where he faces BJP's celebrity candidate, Suresh Gopi. File Photo: Manorama Online.

New Delhi: In an unexpected turn of events, the Indian National Congress has reshuffled its list of candidates for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections after Padmaja Venugopal, the daughter of the late Congress leader and former Chief Minister of Kerala, K Karunakaran, defected to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Padmaja joined the BJP on Thursday and was inducted by Union Minister Prakash Javadekar in New Delhi.

Reacting to the development, Congress has nominated K Muraleedharan, Padmaja's brother, to contest from the Thrissur constituency, where he faces BJP's celebrity candidate, Suresh Gopi. Muraleedharan was initially slated to run in Vadakara, a position now assigned to Shafi Parambil. Shafi’s presence in the candidate list ensures the Muslim representation of the party in the election.

The party leadership has said that KC Venugopal will stand for election in Alappuzha. However, if Venugopal steps aside due to organizational commitments, Rahul Mankoottathil is set to replace him as the candidate for this seat.

Rahul Gandhi and K Sudhakaran will seek re-election in Wayanad and Kannur, respectively. Other sitting Members of Parliament from the party are expected to maintain their existing constituencies.

Shafi Parambil Photo: facebook/shafiparambilmla
Shafi Parambil. Photo: Facebook/shafiparambilmla

The final list of Congress candidates is expected to be announced on Friday, following the party's Central Election Committee's meeting, which Congress Chief Mallikarjun Kharge chaired on Thursday night.

In Palakkad, VK Srikandan was initially considered to replace Shafi Parambil. However, the decision was later dropped.

Rahul Gandhi will also contest from his former constituency of Amethi in Uttar Pradesh. A final decision on candidates from UP is expected shortly.

Key Congress leaders, including Sonia Gandhi, KC Venugopal, K Sudhakaran, VD Satheesan, Shashi Tharoor, and Ramesh Chennithala, were among those who attended the critical election committee meeting on Thursday. Engrossed in the "Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra" in Gujarat, Rahul Gandhi joined the meeting via video conference.

K Sudhakaran. Photo: Manorama

If party requests, I will withdraw from the contest: TN Prathapan
Meanwhile, the Thrissur sitting MP TN Prathapan has stated his willingness to step aside from the upcoming electoral contest if the Congress party deems it necessary. As the party, in a sudden shift, has decided to field K Muraleedharan in Thrissur, Prathapan has expressed his full support for any candidate the party chooses to contest in the constituency.

Prathapan praised Muraleedharan, calling him one of the finest leaders in Kerala with leadership qualities comparable to those of his late father, K Karunakaran. He described Muraleedharan as a determined leader and affirmed that the candidate selection process is still under discussion within the party.

Additionally, Prathapan acknowledged the normalcy of campaigning activities such as wall graffiti and poster placement during elections, as his name was already made on walls and posters. He reassured that the Congress would not concede the Thrissur seat to either the BJP or the LDF under any circumstances.

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