CPI(M) fields seasoned, popular leaders for LS polls as party looks to win maximum seats in Kerala

Party needs to win maximum seats in state if it wants to retain 'national party' tag

CPIM flag Representational image | via Commons

The CPI(M) in Kerala officially unveiled its list of candidates for the Lok Sabha elections. The party will be competing in 15 seats across the state, while its coalition partners CPI and Kerala Congress (Mani) will contest in four seats and one seat respectively.

During the candidate announcement, CPI(M) state secretary M.V. Govindan said all 15 CPI(M) candidates will contest under the party's symbol, the hammer and sickle. This implies that Joice George, who previously ran as an independent candidate with LDF support in Idukki, and K.S. Hamsa, a former member of the Muslim League who was expelled last year and is now being fielded by the CPI(M) in Ponnani, will also contest under the CPI(M)'s symbol. The CPI(M) is fielding Hamsa, chairman of the Malabar College of Engineering and Technology, clearly with the expectation that the Samastha Kerala Jem-iyyathul Ulama (commonly referred to as Samastha)—a prominent association of Sunni scholars with significant support among Kerala Muslims—will endorse his candidacy.

In 2019, the CPI(M)-led LDF managed to win only one out of the 20 Lok Sabha seats in Kerala. For the Marxist party to continue to have a "national party" tag, winning the maximum seats from Kerala is crucial. Consequently, this time around, the party is leaving nothing to chance; it is nominating seasoned and well-known leaders in most constituencies to contest against the Congress-led UDF and the BJP-led NDA.

In Alappuzha, the party is fielding its only incumbent Lok Sabha MP, A.M. Ariff. In Alathur, the party has chosen the incumbent state minister for the Welfare of Scheduled Castes, K. Radhakrishnan, as its candidate. Additionally, former ministers Dr. Thomas Issac, C. Ravindranath, K.K. Shailaja, and Elamaram Kareem are contesting in Pathanamthitta, Chalakudy, Vadakara, and Kozhikode respectively. A. Vijayaraghavan, a member of the party's politburo and the spouse of state Higher Education Minister R. Bindu, is contesting from Palakkad. Besides, the party has nominated three district secretaries—M.V. Balakrishnan in the Kasaragod seat, M.V. Jayarajan in Kannur, and V. Joy in Attingal. In the Kollam Lok Sabha constituency, the party has fielded actor-turned-politician M. Mukesh, the incumbent MLA from the Kollam assembly constituency.

In Ernakulam, the party has nominated an unexpected candidate, K.J. Shine, who is a relatively unfamiliar face. Shylaja and Shine are the only women faces in the candidate list of CPI(M)— a party that has long advocated for the Women’s Reservation Bill.

Shine, a member of the North Paravur Municipality for three consecutive terms, is a state committee member of the Kerala School Teachers Association. However, her strong ties with the Catholic Church, particularly her active involvement in the Kerala Catholic Youth Movement, are said to have played a significant role in her selection as a candidate.

Similarly, Joice George has gained prominence as an activist associated with the church-backed High Range Samrakshana Samithi. In 2014 and 2019, the Samithi had supported George. It remains to be seen whether he will garner the support from organisations like High Range Samrakshana Samithi now that he is contesting not as an independent candidate supported by the LDF, but as a candidate running under the party's symbol. V. Vaseef features as the youth organisation, DYFI's, representative on the candidate list. Notably, Vaseef, who currently holds the position of DYFI state president, is vying for the Malappuram seat, known as a stronghold of the Indian Union Muslim League.

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