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After a week of dithering, Congress fixes Vadakara conundrum

Our Bureau Thiruvananthapuram | Updated on March 19, 2019 Published on March 19, 2019

K Muraleedharan, Congress MLA   -  THE HINDU

Picks Muraleedharan to fight CPI(M) strongman Jayarajan

The Congress in Kerala appears to have finally picked up its trump card for Vadakara, the lone Lok Sabha seat in the State that defied an easy fix for more than a week now.

K Muraleedharan, the sitting MLA from Vattiyoorkavu in Thiruvananthapuram and one of its senior-most leaders, will fight Marxist strongman P Jayarajan from Vadakara.

The Congress was left with hardly any options after the sitting MP from Vadakara, Mullappally Ramachandran, who is also the chief of the Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC), refused to contest, citing a heavy workload.

Muraleedharan said he was only too willing to resign as an MLA after the party asked him to take up the challenge, and dubbed the poll face-off as a fight between democracy and a cultivated history of political violence.

The reference was to Jayarajan’s long tenure as chief of the Kannur unit of the CPI(M), during when he allegedly presided over some of the bloodiest violence involving the BJP-RSS in the district.

Muraleedharan told newspersons here that he was ready to give a strong fight. “It does not matter who my opponent is. Only his ideological alignments does,” he said.

The Congress has strongly condemned the use of violence as a tool to eliminate dissenters. “This is going to be the central plank of the battle against the CPI(M) in Vadakara,” Muraleedharan added. The national leadership of the Congress is expected to announce the final list “soon”, party sources said, following which it would plunge into the full-fledged campaign mode.

Sitting MLAs lined up

In stark contrast, the CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) candidates are close to finishing the first round of campaign, if not entering the second.

As for the BJP, its national leadership is still grappling with the final list in Delhi, with two or three aspirants still in contention for some key constituencies in the State.

Local reports said that party circles and the RSS are worried that the undue delay in finalising candidates could neutralise the early start the Sabarimala campaign had gifted it. Meanwhile on Tuesday, Congress’s Muraleedharan became the ninth sitting MLA from both the Left Front and the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) chosen to contest the Lok Sabha elections.

Of these, six are from the Left Front and three are from the UDF, which, the BJP said, had exposed the political bankruptcy of both the ruling and main Opposition fronts.

Observers said the Congress had no choice after the LDF had decided to field sitting MLAs due to its own compulsions well ahead of others.

Kerala is the last bastion for the CPI(M), and the upcoming Parliamentary elections are crucial for the party for its very existence. The party has roped in four of its MLAs while alliance partner CPI has fielded two.

Published on March 19, 2019
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