(Eds: Adds details) Thiruvananthapuram, Mar 10 (PTI) Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and seven of his cabinet colleagues were among the 83 candidates announced by the CPI(M) headed ruling LDF for the state assembly polls, while 33 sitting MLAs, including Thomas Isaac have been left out in line with the party's two-term criteria.
The 33 MLAs will not be contesting this time, as the party gave seats to several new faces in an effort to reach out to the youngsters and women.
Vijayan, who has been fielded once again fromDharmadam in Kannur, has already hit the campaign trail,aiming a second consecutive term for the lone left bastion in the country.
Health Minister K K Shailaja (Mattannur),Labour minister T P Ramakrishnan (Perambra), Power minister M M Mani (Udumbanchola), Devaswom minister Kadakkampally Surendran (Kazhakootam), Fisheries Minister Mercykutty Amma (Kundra), Local Self Government minister A C Moideen (Kunnamkulam) and Higher Education minister K T Jaleel (Left Independent) are trying their luck once again.
Assembly Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan has not been fielded by the party this time which preferred 73-year-old CITUNational secretary PNandakumar to contest from Ponnani in Malappuram.
CPI(M) state secretary in-charge A Vijayaraghavan told the media that the list was prepared by the party keeping in mind the aim of coming back to power to 'strengthen the fight for secular causes at the national level'.
Two time Palakkad MP M B Rajesh, who lost in the 2019 lok sabha election, is contesting for the first time to the state assembly and would be trying his luck from Thrithala.
M V Govindan Master, K Radhakrishan, P Rajeev and K N Balagopal are the among state secretariatmembers who are contesting.
Noting that the party has picked qualified persons as candidates, Vijayaraghavan said 42 of them are graduates,24 post-graduates, two Phd holders,, an Architect and two practicing MBBS doctors.
As many as 12 women and 4 youngsters below the age of 30 years are among the candidates.
Twenty eight lawyers and 25 candidates below the age of 50 have found a place in the list.
Besides Isaac, senior ministers E P Jayarajan, A K Balan, Prof Raveendranath and G Sudhakaran, are among the 33 MLAs who are not contesting the election due to the two term criteria enforced by the party to give preference to new candidates.
Dismissing media reports that the new criteria was to avoid certain persons, Vijayaraghavan said it was not so, but to give opportunities to new persons.
'The party is trying to give chances to new persons who are equally talented. But, there is a conscious campaign from certain quarters that it was to exclude some persons.
But, people will reject it for sure,' Vijayaraghavan said.
Of the total candidates, 74 are from CPI(M) and 9 are party supported independents.
The candidates of Devikulam and Manjeswaram will be declaredlater, he said adding that the final list was prepared after taking into account the party's interests at the national and state levels.
Pointing out that the Left front was introducing a host of programmes envisaging to mould the future of the state, Vijayaraghavan said the scheme, eyeing to provide employment for 20 lakh people in the next five years, is one of the most significant among them.
However, the opposition Congress and BJP were trying all 'wicked means' to prevent the LDF coming into power again in the state, he alleged.
The speech made by Union home minister Amit Shah, during his recent visit to Thiruvananthapuram, was proof forthe BJP hatching a high-level conspiracy to malign the image of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and other ministers, he claimed.
Both BJP and Congress are working in tandem in the state to prevent the Left from coming into power again, he said adding that every person who wanted to retain the secular fabric of the southern state would vote for the CPI(M)-led front.
CPI, a major ally in the ruling Left Democratic Front, had on Tuesday announced that it will be contesting in 25 seats and declared candidates for 21 seats, including Revenue minister,E Chandrasekharan (Kanhangad), Incumbent Deputy Speaker V Sashi (Chiryankeezhu).
In the 2016 polls, the LDF had won 91 seats in the 140- member assembly. PTI RRT LGK UD ROH ROH