Since early March, all eyes and ears have been glued to both print and electronic media. They all were eagerly waiting for the list of BJP candidates. They, including LDF and UDF leaders, do so because Kerala BJP is entirely different from what it used to be. Now, it is a force to reckon with. Even though senior leader O. Rajagopal was the lone member in the last assembly, now BJP claims to become the ruling party after the imminent assembly election.
When the party’s central leadership released the list of the 112 candidates on March 14, the common voters and the LDF – UDF leaders realised that this time “BJP means business.” A mere glance of the list generates the same idea among all right-thinking people.
State president K. Surendran contests from two constituencies, viz., Manjeswaram in Kasargod and Konni in Pathanamthitta. Last time he lost Manjeswaram for a wafer-thin shortage of 89 votes. If he had won, the party’s assembly tally would have been two! And, since Sabarimala agitation, Surendran is the darling of the Ayyappa devotees. The place is very close to the hilltop shrine. So, political observers believe that Surendran will come out with flying colours.
Since O. Rajagopalji has opted to keep away from the contest this time, BJP’s most charismatic leader Kummanam Rajasekharan has stepped into Nemam. Here the speculation is all about the majority he is expected to bag.
The star candidate is Metroman Dr. (Engr) E. Sreedharan who has thrown his hat into Palakkad. Palakkad has been a stronghold of BJP and RSS for a long time. The municipality is under BJP rule since 2016.
Retd. DG of Police Dr. Jacob Thomas is likely to be a clear winner. Keralites see him as a fighter against corruption. That is why he turned to be the bete noire of CM Pinarayi Vijayan.
Another shining star is Dr K.S. Radhakrishnan, former VC of Sri Sankara Sanskrit University, Kaladi and former chairman of Kerala Public Service Commission. Author of several books and well-known orator in both Malayalam and English, Radhakrishan came up from a humble family atmosphere. Known for his professional ethics and straight forward dealings, the academician par excellence hardly needs any introduction in the Thrippoonithura constituency where he contests against sitting CPM MLA and Congress veteran, a former MLA and a former minister.
Dr Abdul Salam is another academician BJP that has fielded this time. A former VC of Calicut University, Dr Salam is known for his nationalist views and professional efficiency.
Rajya Sabha MP and matinee idol Suresh Gopi contests from Thrissur. He is known not only as a superstar but also as a man of charity who spends a lion’s share of his income including MP’s salary for the benefit of the poor.
Senior leaders of the party in Kerala, P.K. Krishnadas, A.N. Radhakrishnan, C,K. Padmanabhan and M.T. Ramesh are also in the contest this time.
Neither LDF nor UDF can claim a galaxy of luminaries as candidates as BJP enjoys.
No doubt, people pin their hopes on BJP as they are fed up with the cycle of LDF and UDF rules for the last three-quarters of a century. They believe that the sterling candidates in BJP fields are the ones they have been waiting for.