CHENNAI: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Friday became the first off the blocks to release its initial list of candidates for both Tamil Nadu and Kerala Assembly polls. While the 54-candidate Tamil Nadu list released in Delhi by Central Election Committee secretary JP Nadda has the names of senior leaders ,including national secretary H Raja and State vice president Vanathi Sreenivasan, the Kerala list is bound to cause a flutter with the inclusion of controversial cricketer S Sreesanth among the 51 candidates.
H Raja, the outspoken hardliner, will contest from T Nagar, the commercial hub in the heart of Chennai. He got the T Nagar ticket after veteran leader L Ganesan opted out of the fray. Ganesan was the party’s candidate for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls from the South Chennai constituency, which includes the T Nagar Assembly segment. In the T Nagar segment, he stood second while the DMK came third, something that will work to Raja’s advantage, Ganesan told Express.
Meanwhile, Vanathi Sreenivasan who contested from Mylapore in Chennai during last Assembly polls has now been fielded from Coimbatore South, a region where the BJP is relatively stronger. There are five women among the 54 candidates who are part of the first list.
It is the Kerala list that is bound to be a talking point with the inclusion of Sreesanth, whose name figured in the Indian Premiere League (IPL) scam.
The Kochi native who joined the party earlier in the day has been fielded from the capital Thiruvananthapuram. Among other notable names are film director Ali Akbar and an actor ‘Bheeman’ D Reghu, who was also an official with the Kerala police. State unit president ‘Kummanam’ Rajasekharan and veteran leader O Rajagopal are conspicuously absent from the first list.
In Tamil Nadu, the party is holding talks with 15 caste based outfits apart from IJK and NJP. Seats for them are likely to be allocated in the next list of candidates.
Vanathi Sreenivasan called the ticket a big recognition fro her from the party. “By releasing the list ahead of other parties, BJP has proved that it is a serious contender in the ensuing Assembly elections. We are hopeful that through this elections, the BJP will be able to evolve a new political culture in Tamil Nadu.”
Other key leaders and the constituencies from where they will contesting are: M Chakravarthy, State vice president (Tiruttani); Pon Vijayaraghavan, farmers wing president (Killiyur); Karuppu N Muruganandham, vice president (Pattukottai); Sivakami Paramasivam, State vice president (Gangavalli SC); M Meenadev, Nagercoil municipality chairperson (Kanyakumari); and CR Nandakumar, district secretary (Singanallur).
Other candidates include M R Gandhi, State executive committee member (Nagercoil); MR Kanagaraj, former district president (Tuticorin); K Sivasamy, former district president (Karur); S Palanisamy, State secretary (Sholavandan-SC); Nagarajan, district president (Thiruchengode); P Gnanapandithan, State executive member (Sattur); C Dharmaraj, former district president (Vilavancode); and M Suseendran, Madurai rural district secretary (Madurai East).