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PJ Kurien front-runner for Pathanamthitta seat; Mullappally declines to contest

Highly- placed sources, who took part in the discussions, told Express  Pathanamthitta seat was a surprise bone of contention to be resolved.

Published: 12th March 2019 04:53 AM  |   Last Updated: 12th March 2019 05:08 AM   |  A+A-

Congress leader PJ Kurien

Congress leader PJ Kurien (File | PTI)

Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM:  With the Congress screening committee meeting in New Delhi on Monday failing to arrive at a consensus on the party candidates for the coming Lok Sabha polls, speculation is rife on the probable names likely to get the nod. The screening committee, which will be meeting for a second time on March 15, is expected to finalise the list of candidates.

Highly- placed sources, who took part in the discussions, told Express  Pathanamthitta seat was a surprise bone of contention to be resolved. The committee could arrive at the conclusion that Anto Antony, the sitting MP,  has poor chance of winnability and with an Orthodox faction candidate like sitting MLA Veena George being the LDF candidate, another protestant leader should be contesting on an UDF ticket.  
Consequently, P J Kurien, former Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, has emerged as front-runner for the seat. 

Kurien, though, is vehemently opposed to the idea. But sources indicated he may finally relent in the event of being pressured by the Congress high command. Mullappally Ramachandran, whose name was proposed for the Vadakara seat, declined to contest on the grounds his presence is needed in all the 20 LS constituencies. The screening committee members have arrived at a broad consensus on party candidates in Kasargod, Kannur, Palakkad, Alathur and Chalakkudy LS seats. Some other names have cropped up in the case of  Wayanad, Idukki, Attingal, Alappuzha and Thrissur seats.

Despite the party leadership insisting on KC Venugopal as the candidate from Wayanad seat, which fellow UDF ally the IUML too is angling for, the AICC general secretary is preoccupied with his organisational responsibilities. However, sources indicated that he may eventually be roped in for the seat. 
Surprisingly, Shanimol Usman’s name has also come up  for the seat, with Ramesh Chennithala pushing for her candidature. The strong opposition from Sunni factions may put her candidature on the back burner and  Kozhikode DCC chief T Siddik and former KPCC stand-in president M M Hassan may be roped in at the last moment.

Shanimol will mostly like;y contest from Alappuzha and Adoor Prakash from Attingal. The high command will also exert pressure on V M Sudheeran who might contest from Thrissur and if there are any last-minute changes he could even be fielded from Alappuzha. In that case T N Prathapan will contest from Thrissur. Another development which came up is that of P C Chacko for Chalakkudy along with that of UDF convener Benny Behanan.

B Subbaiah Rai’s name has been finalised for Kasargod and K Sudhakaran for Kannur. AP Anil Kumar is the likely candidate in Alathur and Shafi Parambil in Palakkad. Party leadership has not arrived at a consensus on Wayanad and Vadakara with different opinions coming up. In Wayanad, the ‘I’ group has suggested the name of Shanimol Usman which was strongly opposed by others as the Muslim community which is a dominant force in the constituency may not support a Woman Muslim leader. 

The names of Kozhikode DCC president T Siddik and   M M Hassan are also doing the rounds for Wayand seat. While Mullappally Ramachandran was for the candidature of Rajmohan Unnithan from the Vadakara seat, the name of RMP leader K K Rema has been suggested by various quarters though a consensus has eluded the party in this regard. Congress sources told Express they hoped the party will finalise the list of candidates by March 15, when the screening committee is scheduled to meet again.

Election cauldron

Mullappally Ramachandran declined to contest on the grounds his presence is needed in all the 20 LS constituencies. Congress sources said the party will finalise the list of candidates by March 15, when the screening committee is scheduled to meet again.

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