New Delhi/Thiruvananthapuram: Hectic parleys are on in Congress to finalise its Lok Sabha candidates for Kerala. The central election committee is expected to make a final list of candidates Saturday. As discussions entered the final stage, group leaders and potential candidates have arrived in Delhi.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi discussed seat-sharing in the state with senior leaders on board the plane as he returned to New Delhi Thursday evening ahead of a crucial meeting Friday over the Lok Sabha candidate list.
Concluding his Kerala visit, Rahul flew with state leaders on the special plane. He had discussions with opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala, KPCC president Mullappally Ramachandran as well as AICC general secretaries Oommen Chandy and K C Venugopal. The AICC general secretary in-charge of Kerala Mukul Wasnik was also on board.
Wasnik will hold a screening committee meeting with Chennithala, Mullappally and Venugopal in Delhi Friday. The central election committee will be handed the list once a decision is reached.
Also read: Election calendar
Victory probability will be the prime criterion on seats where more than one candidate has staked claim. The high command hopes the factions in the party are ready for compromises even as their lobbying for seats continue. Making candidate selection easier, prominent young leaders of the party have asked the leadership not to select candidates and allot constituencies as per group equations. They are trying to hold a meeting with Rahul who had promised more opportunities for youth and women.
The central leadership has asked for a short list for each constituency. Rahul’s decision will be crucial on the candidacy of Chandy, Mullappally and Venugopal. Chennithala and Mullappally will hold talks with Venugopal and senior leader A K Antony. Chandy, who is the general secretary in-charge of Andhra Pradesh, is also actively involved in the parleys.
Reportedly, P C Chacko, who is the AICC in-charge of Delhi, conveyed to high command his interest in contesting from Chalakudy. At the same time, he also offered to make way for youngsters or women.
* Sitting MPs: Uncertainty among sitting seats prevails only on Ernakulam and Pathanamthitta. MPs K V Thomas and Anto Antony are prime runners. Inputs from state, district leaders and MLAs in the constituencies are being sought.
* Attingal: Adoor Prakash is the prime choice. He might be shifted to Alappuzha where Venugopal has expressed disinterest contesting from. There are no other names for Attingal as yet if that happens.
* Alappuzha: Shanimol Usman gets priority. B Babu Prasad also in consideration.
* Idukki: Chandy’s candidacy is still sought. P J Joseph has requested High Command that he be considered as independent with party support. P C Chacko, Joseph Vazhakkan and Dean Kuriakose are also being considered.
* Chalakudy: Benny Behanan stands a good chance. P C Chacko has an eye on the seat.
* Thrissur: TN Prathapan leads here. VM Sudheeran’s candidacy is also sought.
* Alathur: Former minister AP Anil Kumar's chances are strong. Local leader Ramya Haridas is also being considered.
* Palakkad: DCC president VK Sreekandan might return. If Shafi Parambil is picked and he wins, Assembly re-election might pose a challenge.
* Vadakara: RMP leader KK Rema’s name suggested since Mullappally is disinterested. T Siddique has prime possibility among Congress leaders.
* Kannur: Only K Sudhakaran.
* Kasaragod: B Subbaiah Rai gets priority. No final decision yet.
* Wayanad: If Venugopal refuses, Shanimol will contest. Some oppose a Muslim woman’s candidacy while others defend her saying a League lady is district panchayat president.