Cong releases Kerala list of candidates; Oommen Chandy, Ramesh

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Chennithala, Muraleedharan among candidates (Eds: updating with details) New Delhi/Thiruvananthapuram, Mar 14 (PTI) Congress on Sunday announced its first list of candidates for the April 6 Kerala assembly polls, fielding former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy from Puthuppally and Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala from Haripad, as party workers protested in several places in the state over denial of tickets.

Mahila Congress President Lathika Subhash resigned from the post and tonsured her head in protest, following denial of the Ettumanoor seat to her.

Vatakara MP K Muraleedharan, son of veteran Congress leader K Karunakaran, has been fielded from Thiruvananthapuram's Nemon constituency, the lone seat won by the BJP in 2016 assembly polls.

Muraleedharan' sister Padmaja Venugopal has been fielded from Thrissur constituency.

The party had earlier decided not to permit sitting MPs contest the polls, but an exception was made in the case of Muraleedharan after Chandy made it clear he was not prepared to leave Puthupally, which he had represented for over 50 years in the state assembly.

Kerala PCC Chief Mullappally Ramachandran, who met the media at Delhi after deliberations with the screening committee and the Congress high command, announced the list of 86 candidates out of the 92 seats the party will contest.

Ramachandran said the candidates list was an amalgamation of youngsters and those with experience.

'There are 46 people in the age group of 25-50 and 21 in the age group of 51-60. We have given importance to new faces in this election.

Eighty six names have been finalised in the 92 seats in which the party is contesting,' Ramachandran said.

The candidates for Kalpetta, Nilambur,Vattiyoorkavu, Kundara, Thavanur and Pattambi constituencies will be finalised after more talks, he said.

Cine actor Dharmajan will contest from Balussery in Kozhikode and Youth Congress president Shafi Pramabil from Palakkad.

The party's Youth wing leaders V T Balram (Thrithala), A M Rohith (Ponnani), Dr Sarin P (Ottapalam) and KSU state chief K M Abhijith (Kozhikode North) are among those contesting.

Former ministers A P Anil Kumar (Wandoor), K Babu (Tripunithura), V S Siva Kumar (Thiruvananthapuram) and P K Jayalekshmi (Mananthavady) are also in the fray.

Sitting MLAs Shanimol Usman, Eldhose Kunnappally, Roji M John, Anwar Sadath, V D Satheeshan, T J Vinod, P T Thomas, V P Sajeendran, Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, Anil Akkara are among others who will be trying their luck.

While Congress will contest in 92 seats, it's major ally Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) will field candidates in 27 seats'.

Other UDF constituents, the Kerala Congress (Joseph) will contest in 10 seats, the Nationalist Kerala Congress of Mani C Kappan in two and the Communist Marxist Party, in one seat.

Meanwhile, protests by Congress workers erupted at various places in the state over denial of tickets.

Former DCC president ofPathanamthitta P Mohanraj resigned from the party, while 22 DCC members stepped down from the post in Kannur district.

Veteran leader V M Sudheeran also criticised the party leadership over the list, saying many popular candidates had been ignored.

'It's sad. In many places, popular candidates have been ignored.

There was no such period like this in the history of Congress in Kerala where there have been rampant protests against the selection of candidates.

Those who should have been considered were totally ignored,' he said, adding that decisions were takenbased on personal and factional interest over that of the party.

Senior party leader P C Chacko had recently resigned, alleging factionalism in the party, days before former KPCC General secretary Vijayan Thomas did so and joined the BJP.