Kerala Congress list has 55% new faces, party calls it ‘generational shift’
Only three candidates are above 70, including former CM Oommen Chandy, and only eight women figured in the list. This time in Congress list, 42 are graduates, two medical doctors and two PhD scholars as well
Heavily depending on him to see it throught the crucial assembly election on April 6, Congress party’s list of candidates, announced this Sunday, has Rahul Gandhi’s touch. Though women candidates don’t figure prominently, at least 55% of the candidates are new faces and more than 60% are in the 25-50 age group.
“It is a generational shift. We have to pump in enough fresh blood to invigorate the party. Our 27-year-old candidate in Kayamkulam, Aritha Babu, is a classic example. A post-graduate, she rears cattle for living and devotes time to party work,” party state president Mullapally Ramachandran said while acknowledging the shift. Only three candidates are above 70, including former CM Oommen Chandy, and only eight women figured in the list.
Among 86 candidates, 44 are debutants. The party is contesting in 95 seats (out of 140) this time. “This is a well balanced list. In a democratic party like Congress, there will be some heart burns but they will die down naturally,” said Oommen Chandy, one of the contenders for the CM’s post if the party returns to power. Downplaying the outburst of Mahila Congress chief Lathika Subhash who tonsured her head in protest after being denied a seat, he said, “We really wanted to accommodate her but the Ettumanoor seat she eyed went to the one of the coalition partners.”
Despite rumblings, the party has outsmarted its main rival, ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist) which always springs surprises, by fielding fresh faces and qualified candidates. This time in Congress list, 42 are graduates, two medical doctors and two PhD scholars.
Inclusion of young and new faces has left many senior leaders upset and there are reports that the Bharatiya Janata Party has approached some of them. Former party MLA from Kazhakootam MA Wahid said BJP leaders have offered him a seat but he rejected the offer. But BJP leaders dismissed it saying “it was only his wish.”
The list also gave an impression that faction feud failed to make much of an impact but sulking party working president K Sudhakaran said, “State leaders placed their groups about winnability factor.” He was upset because some of his aides were not given tickets. A grassroots leader, the Kannur MP has played a key role in keeping the party flag flying in the Communist stronghold.
“In the present scenario, it is the best candidate list. We can say it is the Rahul effect. I feel in the remaining seats women will get due representation,” said political observer Sunnykutty Abraham.
Last week, the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF), led by the CPI(M), had released its list of all 140 seats. The CPI(M) is contesting 85 seats, ten less than the Congress. The BJP is contesting the most number of seats than any political party in the state, 115. Its state unit chief, K Surendran, is contesting from two seats -- Konni in Pathanamthitta and Mancheswaram in north Kerala where he was defeated with a wafer-thin margin of 85 votes in 2016 elections.