THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The state BJP office-bearers’ meeting held the other day has decided to recommend the name of P S Sreedharan Pillai to the central leadership as the candidate for the Chengannur bypoll. The BJP parliamentary board, the topmost body of the party, has to clear the name before the formal announcement, party sources told Express.
As Pillai, a former state BJP president and an invitee to the national executive, had put up a remarkable fight in the 2016 Assembly elections to finish a close third behind the then incumbent MLA P C Vishnunath by garnering more than 42,600 votes, the party realised not only his clout but the real chances of the BJP in the constituency.
As Chengannur has 67 per cent Hindu voters, comprised predominantly of Nairs and Ezhavas, the BJP hopes to make the contest a real tough one for the LDF and UDF.The prospects of Pillai reaching out to Christian voters is considered high as he had already proved to sceptics that the minority Christians will no longer consider the BJP an “untouchable” party. The 24 per cent Christian voters are likely to consolidate in the event of the LDF fielding CPM district secretary Saji Cherian as the candidate. In that case, BJP strategists see a potential Hindu consolidation as well.
If there are two Hindu candidates and one Christian candidate as main contenders in the fray, the section of Hindu voters who had voted in favour of K K Ramachandran Nair in the 2016 election will shift in favour of the BJP, they believe.
As the Congress is dilly-dallying between the choice of M Murali, the former MLA who represented Mavelikkara for four consecutive times, and KPCC executive member D Vijayakumar and his daughter Jyothi Vijayakumar, the party has not yet started its pre-notification campaign.Compared to the confusion in the Congress camp, the well-oiled machinery of the CPM and BJP have started making efforts to enrol more people in the voters’ list.