KOCHI With only hours left for the Congress to announce its final list of candidates, sources said the party has decided to work around its group equations and play it safe in Ernakulam district, which is one of its traditional forts.For instance, the party may exclude former minister and Oommen Chandy’s close aide K Babu — whose name was initially heard for the Tripunithura constituency — from the candidate list.
Instead of Babu, the Congress is expected to field Venu Rajamony, former ambassador of India to the Netherlands. It is learnt that some top party leaders had suggested Rajamony’s name for Tripunithura on Thursday. Rajamony, who was a career diplomat for 34 years, was also the press secretary to the President of India and the Consul General of India in Dubai. He is now retired and settled here.
A section of leaders also insisted that the decision to withdraw Babu’s name will further pressure its ally, the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), to backtrack from its plan to field former works minister V K Ebrahim Kunju in the Kalamassery seat. However, the decision will not be finalised without Babu’s concurrence, sources said. “If the party is not fielding Rajamony, the other option is Mulanthuruthy block panchayat president Raju P Nair. He is also the general secretary of the Ernakulam DCC and is very close to Rahul Gandhi. His chances cannot be overlooked,” they added.
If Rajamony or Nair is fielded in Tripunithura, the party may field an Ezhava candidate at Vypeen to cater to the community equation. “A surprise name is likely to be announced for Vypeen, that of former Kochi corporation councillor Deepak Joy. As the LDF has fielded K N Unnikrishnan instead of experienced campaigner S Sarma, the Congress may also go for a newcomer like Deepak,” party insiders said.
All sitting MLAs will contest again, said sources. The party has once again decided to field V D Satheesan in Paravoor, Roji M John in Angamaly, Eldhose Kunnappilly in Perumbavoor, V P Sajeendran in Kunnathunadu, P T Thomas in Thrikkakara and T J Vinod in Ernakulam.
Another debutant will be former Kochi mayor Tony Chammany, who will contest from the Kochi constituency. KPCC general secretary Mathew Kuzhalnadan is being actively considered for Muvattupuzha.