Kerala polls: Rebels, namesakes give sleepless nights to candidates
With campaign intensifying for the May 16 Assembly polls in the state, rebel candidates and namesakes are posing a threat to winning prospects of candidates, especially to those of Congress-led UDF, in some constituencies in Kerala.
While UDF candidates face rebel threat the most, including on many seats they currently hold, CPI(M)-led LDF and BJP-led NDA seem to have less number of rebels as per the final candidates' list.
The last date for withdrawing nominations ended yesterday and 1203 candidates are in the fray for 140 seats.
Even though the main battle is between UDF and LDF, the NDA has made the electoral contest triangular in many constituencies.
K C Joseph, state's Minister for Rural Development and a close confidant of Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, who is seeking eighth term to the Assembly from Irikkur, is among the prominent UDF candidates facing rebel threat.
It is significant that Joseph's candidature had been objected to by local Congress workers. However, ignoring the protest, the party leadership decided to field him.
Rebel Congress leader Binoy Thomas is taking on Joseph under the banner 'Save Congress'. Sitting MLAs P C Vishnunath (Chengannur), K M Shaji (Azhikode), and Domenic Presentation (Kochi) are also facing the rebel threat.
Former MLA Shobhana George, who was denied ticket this time, is actively campaigning against Vishnunath.
Once a strong loyalist of former chief minister late K Karunakaran, Shobhana had filed her nomination papers in the last assembly polls also. But she withdrew at the last minute following the intervention by senior party leaders.
However, Shobhana refused to budge to the party leadership pressure this time. She said she has decided to contest this time as the party leadership "failed" to meet the promise that she would be given a ticket this time.
KM Shaji, who is contesting against CPI(M)'s journalist-turned candidate M V Nikesh Kumar, is facing a huge threat from PK Ragesh, who came into the limelight after winning as rebel against the official candidate in the last civic polls.
Former district panchayat member K J Lenus is threatening the winning prospects of Kochi MLA Domenic Presentation while Kerala Congress (M) leader CF Thomas is facing stiff challenge from Youth Congress leader K Suresh who is contesting as an Independent in Changanassery.
Namesakes, who ensured many prominent candidates did not win in the previous polls, are in fray in some constituencies this time as well.
RMP candidate in Vadakara and widow of TP Chandrasekharan, KK Rema, is one of the contestants facing such a threat.
UDF's K S Sabarinathan and K Babu, LDF's Antony Raju and M Swaraj are also facing similar threats in their respective constituencies.