Palakkad bypoll: Congress wants to keep LS poll momentum going

V T Balram, P Sarin & A Thankappan being considered for the seat.
V T Balram, P Sarin and A Thankappan
V T Balram, P Sarin and A Thankappan Photo | Express

KOCHI: For the Congress, the upcoming Palakkad assembly byelection is a crucial contest to sustain the momentum from the Lok Sabha elections and to spell the beginning of the end of LDF’s two-term rule in the state.

At the same time, the BJP, which secured the second position in the Palakkad assembly segment in the recent parliamentary poll, is optimistic about opening its account in the current state assembly through the bypoll. Given the scenario, the Congress national leadership may intervene to make a strategic decision to thwart the saffron party’s aspirations and maintain Congress’s winning streak.

V T Balram, P Sarin and A Thankappan
Lobbying intensifies in Congress for Palakkad and Chelakkara seats

Party insiders reveal that the successor to Shafi Parambil, the former Palakkad MLA and current Vadakara MP, will be chosen by the party high command. While the name of Youth Congress state president Rahul Mamkootathil is widely circulated, there is a strong demand from within the party to field a leader from the district.

Sources close to the Congress national leadership indicate that no formal discussion has yet been held on candidates. While AICC general secretary Priyanka Gandhi has been announced as the candidate for the Wayanad Lok Sabha seat vacated by her brother, Rahul, the party is yet to announce candidates for the Palakkad and Chelakkara byelections.

“The party aims to secure victories in the upcoming byelections for the Wayanad Lok Sabha seats and the Palakkad and Chelakkara assembly seats to boost the morale of its workers. Consistent victories could signify a resurgence for Congress, ending LDF’s reign. Success in these by-polls would also fortify our preparations for the 2025 local body elections,” a senior party leader said.

In the Lok Sabha election, UDF’s V K Sreekantan received a majority of 9,707 votes in the Palakkad assembly segment, which has bolstered Congress’s confidence. However, in 2021, BJP candidate E M Sreedharan narrowed Shafi Parambil’s victory margin from 17,483 in 2016 to just 3,859 votes.

V T Balram, P Sarin and A Thankappan
Kerala: Rahul Mamkootathil, V T Balram top contenders for Palakkad bypoll

Congress state vice-president V T Balram, digital media convener P Sarin and Palakkad district president A Thankappan are among the prominent leaders being considered for the seat. Reports indicating that the district leadership prefers a local candidate emerged after Sarin’s recent meeting with Congress general secretary K C Venugopal in New Delhi. The district leadership is hopeful the national leadership will take their views into account while finalising the Palakkad candidate. That Rahul Mankootathil belongs to Adoor in Pathanamthitta district is cited as a reason against his candidacy.

Meanwhile, BJP and CPM have also started searching for candidates, anticipating a fierce contest among the three political fronts.

In Chelakkara, former Alathur MP Ramya Haridas is a leading contender. Other names being considered include KPCC secretary K B Sasikumar, who was defeated by K Radhakrishnan in the 2011 assembly elections, and K V Dasan, a former district panchayat president. Sasikumar is the son of former Chelakkara MLA K K Balakrishnan.

However, discontent is brewing within the party, as indicated by posters in Chelakkara accusing the Thrissur DCC of being responsible for Ramya’s defeat in the Alathur Lok Sabha seat.

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