THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Congress on Tuesday sprang an election surprise by fielding former PCC president K. Muraleedharan against CPM veteran P. Jayarajan in Vatakara, putting up unremitting political violence as the major election plank of the UDF.
Reacting to Mr Muraleedharan’s candidacy and remarks on “CPM violence,” Mr Jayarajan quipped such gimmick would not wash before voters, who are privy to the rank disunity in the Opposition camp.
Mr Muraleedharan, halfway into his term as the legislator of Vattiyoorkavu, never thought he would be fielded in Vatakara, though initially had eyed the safe seat of Wayanad.
It was a phone call from RMPI leader K.K. Rema on Monday that caught the imagination of the state Congress leaders, who were groping for a candidate to give a tough fight for Mr Jayarajan until recently the CPM Kannur district secretary, after KPCC president Mullappally Ramachandran said ‘no’ to the contest for a third term.
RMPI leaders, including N. Venu, had offered full support to the UDF but told Mr Ramachandran that Kozhikode Corporation councillor Vidya Balakrishnan, the protégé of AICC general secretary K. C. Venugopal, was no match for Mr Jayarajan.
Their bet was Mr Muraleedharan. Ms Rema, who contacted Mr Muraleedharan, knew he would give in to pressure from the high command.
Mr Chandy and Mr Chennithala soon talked to Mr Muralidharan and conveyed the news to Mr Ramachandran. He alerted AICC general secretary in-charge of the state, Mukul Wasnik, and soon there was unanimity on the choice among top leaders, including A. K. Antony and Mr Venugopal.
“Mukulji was more than happy to bring in Mr Muraleedharan. We were asked to send a formal request to AICC leadership. Then everything was swift, and we got the clearance from Congress president Rahul Gandhi to field Mr Muralidharan in Vatakara. Now it is a question of a formal announcement,” Mr Ramachandran told DC.
The BJP is expected to field state secretary V.K. Sajeevan, a relatively lesser-known leader compared to high-profile rivals, in Vatakara....