First list out; Confidence in Kerala BJP

via VR Jayaraj | Thiruvananthapuram published on March 11, 2011

With the central leadership clearing the first list of party candidates for the April 13 Kerala Assembly polls, the State unit of the BJP has launched its campaign with the determination not only to open account in the legislature but also to become a significant force in the Opposition.

Almost all the prominent State leaders – except a few like Mahila Morcha chief Sobha Surendran – have figured in the first list of forty candidates. However, the party’s campaign will be focused on four or five seats, according to BJP sources. “We are sure that the situation this time is favourable for the BJP and we are confident to win at least five seats,” said a senior leader.

In the first list of forty, 19 are first-timers while five women have also found place in it. A BJP leader said that the party would give due importance to women in the election unlike several other parties that “claim to stand for gender equality”. The second list of candidates will be released on March 15 or 16.

The constituencies getting the maximum attention in this election as far as the BJP is concerned will be Manjeswaram and Kasaragod in the northernmost Kasaragod district bordering with Karnataka which proved false the theory that lotus would never bloom in the South. The BJP had been coming a close second in the two constituencies for the past several elections.

Understanding the importance of Manjeswaram, the northernmost constituency, the BJP is fielding one of its most eloquent and efficient leaders, K Surendran, as its candidate there. In 2006, BJP’s Narayana Bhatt had lost Manjeswaram to CPI(M)’s CH Kunhambu by 4,829 votes, a very meager margin considering the pro-Left wave that was sweeping through Kerala then.

In the 1996 Assembly election, Manjeswaram had become closer to electing the BJP candidate. BJP workers there still say that it was sheer lack of luck that defeated party candidate V Balakrishna Shetty then. The majority Muslim League’s Cherkalam Abdulla then managed to muster over Shetty was just 2,292.

In Kasaragod, similar to Manjeswaram in many ways, the BJP is fielding a woman candidate, N Jayalakshmi Bhatt, this time. “We don’t consider the defeat of JP in Manjeswaram and Kasaragod as genuine. What happens here is that arch enemies Congress-led UDF and the Left join hands to defeat the BJP in these seats. But this time this unholy secret marriage won’t be enough to defeat us,” said a leader from Kasaragod.

The other constituency where the BJP will have a thoroughly focused campaign is Nemom in Thiruvananthapuram district where former minister O Rajagopal will be the party candidate. Rajagopal has always been a star candidate in Kerala and he has the added advantage of having contested in the Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha seat, of which Nemom is an Assembly segment, in 2004.

Though Rajagopal was pushed into third position in that Parliament election, the difference of votes scored by him and Congress’s Sivakumar was just 3,400. Rajagopal could be confident when he goes to Nemom now as he had put up a brilliant fight in that Assembly segment in the 2004 Lok Sabha election.

The other constituencies where concentrated BJP campaign will be witnessed are Kunnamangalam in Kozhikode district and Kattakkada, lying adjacent to Nemom, where former state party chiefs CK Padmanabhan and PK Krishnadas respectively will be contesting as per the first list released on Thursday.

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