Will the Left Democratic Front in Kerala take a leaf out of their rival alliance's book for the general election next year? The United Democratic Front put up a strong show in the 2009 general election by fielding a few of its popular sitting MLAs. K V Thomas, K Sudhakaran and K C Venugopal were members of the Kerala legislative assembly when they were picked by the Congress to win back the parliamentary constituencies of Ernakulam, Kannur and Alappuzha, respectively. The gamble paid off.
The CPM, which leads the ruling LDF, loathes the idea of relying on the same candidate for both the parliamentary constituency and the assembly segment because the party thinks it borders on a personality cult. Yet some of the leaders have been arguing for putting up the best candidate to safeguard the party's interests in the aftermath of the polarising issue of women's entry to Sabarimala. A warhorse cannot be ignored just because he happens to be a sitting MLA, they say.
The CPM is not averse to the idea of fielding finance minister T M Thomas Isaac or Aroor MLA A M Arif to put an end to the reign of Venugopal as Alappuzha MP. Isaac may not be interested to leave his post in the ministry but Arif could be a safe bet.
Another minister, K T Jaleel, is seen as an apt candidate to wrest the Ponnani constituency from the Muslim League even though he had come under a shadow of doubt for appointing a relative to a key government post.
DYFI national president Muhammed Riyaz is a natural choice for Kozhikode but a section of party leaders view A Pradeep Kumar as better suited to oust Congress's M K Raghavan.
Even the UDF thinks on similar lines. Some of the leaders have been mooting for Adoor Prakash MLA to storm the LDF bastion of Attingal.
Sudhakaran vs Jayarajan?
If the Congress allows KPCC working presidents to contest elections, K Sudhakaran stands a chance in Kannur. In that scenario, the CPM is likely to field its own strongman P Jayarajan to retain the constituency. Kannur MP P K Sreemathi is being considered as a candidate in problematic Vadakara.
P Karunakaran may give way to K P Satheesh Chandran in Kasaragod. M B Rajesh may get a third chance in Palakkad even though the party usually limits the number of terms to two.
The party, however, is unlikely to show the same leniency to P K Biju in Alathur, where central committee member K Radhakrishnan is considered a dependable candidate.
P Rajeev is being considered for either Ernakulam or Chalakkudy constituencies even though he had just been assigned the responsibility of party mouthpiece 'Deshabhimani'. State secretariat member K N Balagopal is almost being considered in Kollam.
The UDF has to wait for the Congress high command to allow KPCC presidents and working presidents to contest elections. Its strategies in Vadakara, Wayanad and Mavelikkara depend on the decision.
Wannabe candidates have already started lobbying for the seats expecting KPCC president Mullappalli Ramachandran, M I Shanavas and Kodikkunnil Suresh to give way for newcomers. P C Chacko's name is being touted for Thrissur and T N Prathapan is a likely candidate in Chalakkudi. Yet both the seats could go for a fresh face. The Congress has been searching for strong candidates to challenge the CPM hegemony in Palakkad and Alathur.
Mohanlal to make debut?
Matinee idol Mohanlal's visit to Prime Minister Narendra Modi had set the rumour mills working in the BJP. Will the popular actor agree to be a party candidate? BJP leaders maintain that such a situation is unlikely because the actor is yet to commit himself into politics.
After all, why should he slug it out in a Lok Sabha election, while Suresh Gopi was offered an easier route to Parliament through the Rajya Sabha.
The next question, obviously, is about the plans for Mizoram governor Kummanam Rajasekharan. The former BJP president had kept his options open when he agreed to accept the gubernatorial position. He could return to Kerala as a party candidate in Thiruvananthapuram in 2019. Current president P S Sreedharan Pillai's name is touted as a candidate for Pathanamthitta.
The most surprising name to do the rounds is that of former chief minister Oommen Chandy. The talks started when Idukki Congress president Ibrahim Kutty Kallar publicly urged Chandy to contest from Idukki, during a party meeting in Kumily. Chandy smiled off the suggestion but the sitting MLA could be persuaded to contest from Idukki or Kottayam to energise the party cadre in the region.