THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The ground has all been set for the Chengannur bypolls with the political parties launching a hunt for efficient candidates to take on the other as the elections throw up a political challenge for the three political fronts in Kerala. It is going to have a cascading effect in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls in 2019.
For the LDF, CPM district secretary Saji Cherian is the front-runner. He had contested the elections once and was defeated by Congress leader PC Vishnunath. Later, he was elevated to the post of district secretary and emerged as a political heavyweight in the constituency.
The untimely death of K K Ramachandran has necessitated the bypolls, which the LDF, especially the CPM, consider as a prestigious fight ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The poll outcome could become a trendsetter.
Though another state committee member and former MP CS Sujatha also could be considered for the candidature, her loyalty to the VS faction will come up a cropper. From the local level, former Budhanoor grama panchayat president and district committee member Vishwambara Panicker, former block panchayat president K M Sasikumar are also being considered.
In the UDF Front, AICC secretary PC Vishnunath is the front-runner. But the ground-level reports are said to be against his choice. Moreover, he is at present in charge of 46 Assembly segments in Karnataka which go to polls in 2018.
Another likely candidate is senior Congress leader B Vijayakumar who has been serving as KPCC executive member. His credentials as a die-hard ‘I’ group leader got questioned ever since he shifted loyalty towards the ‘A’ faction. The fact the UDF had been holding the Assembly segment consequently for 25 years till KKR defeated Vishnunath in the 2016 elections will turn out to be a major confidence-building factor for the UDF.
In case of denying the seat to Vijayakumar, his daughter Deepthi Vijayakumar who has close proximity with Congress president Rahul Gandhi may also be considered.For the BJP, it is a major challenge to retain the 42,600 votes which they had got in the 2016 election by former state president P S Sreedharan Pillai.
With Pillai intimating the party leadership his reluctance to contest the polls this time citing personal difficulties and inconveniences, the party leadership is in a fix to identify a formidable candidate.
In case the party accepts Pillai’s stand, the pressure will be mounting on state president Kummanam Rajashekaran to contest the polls. In that situation, his candidature will become a game-changer.As the Lok Sabha elections are a year ahead, the party cannot take the fight lightly. There are reports state general secretary M T Ramesh who had contested once from Chengannur, may also be considered in the event of Pillai and Kummanam opting out.