THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Faced with protests against selection of 'celebrities' as the candidates for the Kerala assembly polls, the CPI-M got a setback on Monday when film actress K.P.A.C. Lalitha said she was unwilling to contest the election.
Since March 13, when Lalitha's name came up as the CPI-M backed candidate for Wadakanachery seat in Thrissur district, there has been an unending stream of protests against her candidature.
The actress, 69, had been putting up a brave face, reportedly commenting that "when a new film is released, there is always a mixed response", before deciding to withdraw her nomination.
On Monday she told reporters that her "health" would not be able to take the strain of being a people's representative.
"To be a people's representative is a tough task. It's not like acting in a film... I have already told the local party leaders that I am not willing to contest."
The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) is also facing stiff opposition from local cadres against another "glamorous" candidature -- that of TV news anchor Veena George in Aranmula constituency in Pathanamthitta district.
There are widespread protests and a poster campaign against George's candidature. There have even been some expulsions and resignations from the party over the issue.
In fact, the dissent in the party over candidate selection extends to several districts of the state.
Party ideologues fear that several top and proven leaders like P.K. Gurudasan, C.K. Sadasivan, P. Rajeev, C.S. Sujatha, Aisha Potti are not going to be selected as candidates in Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Alappuzha, Pathanamthitta and Ernakulam districts.
CPI-M politburo member Pinarayi Vijayan, however, played down the protests and the dissent within the party and told reporters on Monday that the process of seat allocation was still on.
"The list is still not out. Once it is ready, then there will be no issues. We do consider numerous names and then the final list is prepared," said Vijayan.