The Congress high command on Tuesday named former Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president and Vattiyoorkavu MLA K. Muraleedharan for the Vadakkara constituency, ending the uncertainty during the last few days over the selection of candidates for the remaining four of the 16 seats that the party will contest in the April 23 Lok Sabha elections.
Mr. Muraleedharan’s entry into the fray has virtually changed the complexion of the electoral fight for the Congress party, making Vadakara the centre of attraction this time.
Mr. Muraleedharan’s candidature has helped the party neutralise the possible negative impact of faction struggles witnessed in the nomination of T. Siddiqque for the Wayanad seat. The stage has been virtually set for a direct fight between the United Democratic Front and the Left Democratic Front in the State.
Selecting a candidate for Vadakara became a challenge for the Congress leadership especially after KPCC president Mullapally Ramachandran stuck to his stand to keep off electoral politics. Malabar leaders expressed their apprehension at the overall impact on the region if the Congress party failed to field a strong candidate against CPI(M) leader P. Jayarajan, who has been a bete noire for the party.
By roping in Mr. Muraleedharan, Mr. Chennithala has succeeded in making up for the factional setback had he received when he had to give in to Oommen Chandy’s pressure for the Wayanad seat. Overall, the Chandy faction has got several prime seats, including Chalakudy, Wayanad and Idukki. The Chennithala faction has got seats that would be tight, but it could still pull off a victory in the backdrop of the Vadakara “formula” it is now experimenting.
Mr. Muraleedharan, reacting to mediapersons questions, said he was not concerned about who his opponent was. For him, the contest was between secular democratic forces and perpetrators of the cult of political, he said.
Having represented Kozhikode Lok Sabha seat earlier, Mr. Muraleedharan would find it much easier to navigate the peculiar social, religious and political dynamics that work in Malabar constituencies. He has always pitched himself on the side of secular democratic forces even when he was in political wilderness for some time, making him acceptable to various social groups.
Congress leaders, even those who were once Mr. Muraleedharan’s arch enemies, say that his presence in the fray will have a positive impact on other constituencies will be benefited and enable the party to confront the CPI(M) on the issue of political violence.
The Vadakara contest also affords an opportunity for Mr. Murleedharan to replant himself in Malabar politics, which was his domain once.