‘Metro Man’ and BJP’s freshly minted member E Sreedharan will fight the Kerala assembly election from Palakkad, the party has said. The BJP has only one MLA in the state ruled by the Left Democratic Front, led by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
Palakkad’s significance for the BJP is that the party came second in this seat in the last state election. The Palakkad municipality is also governed by the BJP. The Congress’s Shafi Parambil won in Palakkad by over 17,000 votes in the last election. He has been fielded again on this seat by the party.
The BJP chief in Kerala, K Surendran, will fight from two seats, Manjeshwaram and Konni, while former state party chief Kummanam Rajasekharan will contest from Nemom constituency in state capital Thiruvananthapuram. Nemom is where the BJP won its first and only MLA in 2016.
The Congress, after much deliberation, has fielded MP K Muraleedharan from Nemom, while CPI(M) has fielded V Sivankutty, who was defeated by BJP’s O Rajagopal in 2016 by around 8,000 votes.
The BJP is contesting in 115 of 140 seats, leaving 25 for its allies.
The BJP is hoping to capitalise on the goodwill of Mr Sreedharan, a former engineer who led the Delhi Metro and other big projects across the country, in the hope of getting winning votes.
“Many have asked me why I am entering politics at 88. My answer is I have worked on many projects for the country for 67 years. At this age too, I have confidence, strength and energy to work. If I can do anything for Kerala, let it be so. It’s that desire alone that made me join BJP,” Mr Sreedharan said on March 7 when Home Minister Amit Shah was campaigning in Kerala.
Mr Sreedharan’s entry into electoral politics has been played down by the BJP’s rivals in Kerala. Congress MP Shashi Tharoor said he thought the ‘metro man’ would have a “minimal impact”.
Other key candidates from the BJP are PK Krishnadas (Kattakada), CK Padmanabhan (Dharmadom), actor Suresh Gopi (Thrissur), K Alphons (Kanjirappally), academician Dr Abdul Salam (Tirur), Krsihnakumar (Thiruvananthapuram Central) and Jacob Thomas (Irinjalakuda), among others.