Two Union ministers, three women and two minority faces in BJP's LS candidates list from Kerala

Actor-turned-politician Suresh Gopi will seek people's mandate from Thrissur, while Anil Antony, son of veteran Congress leader AK Antony will contest from Pathanamthitta.
(L to R) MoS External Affairs V Muraleedharan, Rajya Sabha MP Suresh Gopi, MoS IT Rajeev Chandrashekhar are part of BJP's 12 candidates in Kerala.
(L to R) MoS External Affairs V Muraleedharan, Rajya Sabha MP Suresh Gopi, MoS IT Rajeev Chandrashekhar are part of BJP's 12 candidates in Kerala.Photo | Express

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Two Union ministers, three women and two minority faces are among the BJP’s candidates for 12 Lok Sabha seats in the state that were announced on Saturday. Union Minister of State for IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar is set to take on three-time MP Shashi Tharoor in Thiruvananthapuram while Union Minister V Muraleedharan will contest from Attingal.

As expected, actor-politician Suresh Gopi will seek the people’s mandate from Thrissur. Besides Mahila Morcha leaders, the party has also accommodated Yuva Morcha representatives in the candidate list. As TNIE had reported, regular faces did not find a place on the list.

The BJP decided to field Anil Antony, son of Congress veteran A K Antony, in Pathanamthitta after taking into consideration the concerns raised by NDA partner BDJS against P C George, who recently joined BJP. The BDJS had expressed its dissatisfaction in considering George for the seat over his alleged derogatory statement against the Ezhava community earlier.

T’puram set for a triangular fight

BJP state president K Surendran, who was in favour of George, reportedly batted for the latter’s son Shone. However, the leadership concluded that fielding a new face would be safe. Anil’s candidature in Pathanamthitta is a tactical move as the BJP had secured around 3lakh votes in the 2019 election. Anil’s candidature gains significance in the backdrop of A K Antony’s statement in 2003 on minorities.

With the candidature of Rajeev, Thiruvananthapuram constituency is set to witness a triangular fight between the three fronts. Although the state leadership had proposed a slew of names, including that of Union minister Nirmala Sitaraman and actor Shobana, the BJP central brass zeroed in on Rajeev.

(L to R) MoS External Affairs V Muraleedharan, Rajya Sabha MP Suresh Gopi, MoS IT Rajeev Chandrashekhar are part of BJP's 12 candidates in Kerala.
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As expected, Muraleedharan has been fielded from Attingal, while party state general secretary C Krishna Kumar is contesting from Palakkad and Suresh Gopi from Thrissur.

Although M T Ramesh expressed his willingness to opt-out from the fray, the leadership decided to field him from Kozhikode where the party wanted a strong candidate.

Sobha Surendran’s candidature in Alappuzha is also a calculated move as the party wants to tap the votes of the majority community and Christians in the wake of the prevailing division existing there following the murder of BJP leader Ranjith Sreenivasan. The BJP has since been campaigning against activities of the banned Popular Front of India.

Besides Sobha, there are two other women candidates. Niveditha Subrahmaniyan, the state president of Mahila Morcha, will contest from Ponnani, and M L Aswini, state general secretary of Mahila Morcha, has been fielded from the party stronghold Kasaragod.

Aswini’s entry was expected as the national leadership vetoed regular faces from the probable list and asked the state BJP to propose a young face.

Party’s lone Muslim face in the list is former vice-chancellor of Calicut University Abdul Salam. The party had fielded him in the 2021 assembly election from Malappuram.

C Raghunath’s candidature in Kannur is seen as a message to possible detractors from the Congress as the former is a Congress veteran from the district. With his candidature, the BJP is eyeing the UDF-Congress vote bank.

In Vadakara, the BJP has decided to put its hope behind a young face — Yuva Morcha state president C R Praphul Krishnan.

Never demanded P’thitta seat, says P C George

Former MLA P C George has said that he never demanded anyone to field him as an NDA candidate from Pathanamthitta. “I have already informed the leaders who called me five days ago that I didn’t want to become the candidate. I have never called anyone demanding the candidature,” he said. He said that NDA leaders, including SNDP leaders in Pathanamthitta, had expressed interest in fielding him as the candidate. “But I don’t have any disappointment and I am happy,” he said.

List of BJP candidates in Kerala

Thiruvananthapuram: Rajeev Chandrasekhar

Attingal: V Muraleedharan

Pathanamthitta: Anil K Antony

Alappuzha: Shobha Surendran

Palakkad: C Krishna Kumar

Thrissur: Suresh Gopi

Kozhikode: MT Ramesh

Malappuram: Abdul Salam

Ponnani: Niveditha Subrahmanyan

Vadakara: CR Praphul Krishanan

Kannur: C Raghunath

Kasaragod: ML Aswini

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