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Political parties in Kerala to field film starts in upcoming state elections

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Thiruvananthapuram: Leading political parties of Kerala are tipped to field well-known Malayalam film stars as candidates in the upcoming state assembly elections.

The list of actors and actresses who may plunge into the electoral battle is slowly growing: Suresh Gopi, Mukesh, Jagdish, Sreenivasan, Nedumudi Venu, yesteryear glamour heroine Sheela…

The Kerala polls are set to be held in April or May, and it will see another close fight between the Left Democratic Front (LDF) headed by the CPI-M and the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF).

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has never won an assembly or a Lok Sabha seat in Kerala, is determined to break the jinx.

The Left has always led from the front when it comes to fielding film and cultural personalities.

In the past, the Left had fielded award winning director Lenin Rajendran in the Lok Sabha polls against former president K.R. Narayanan.

Another popular film personality fielded by the Left was late actor Murali, against the present Congress president in Kerala.

While both lost, the shocker came in the 2014 Lok Sabha battle when the CPI-M fielded popular comedian and character artist Innocent, who trounced the Congress veteran and outgoing MP P.C. Chacko in the Chalakudy Lok Sabha constituency

“With Innocent winning hands down, do not be surprised if we decide to field one or perhaps even two persons from the film industry in the assembly polls,” a Left leader told IANS on the condition of anonymity.

Popular character actor Mukesh, whose Left leanings are known, is most likely to be fielded from his home district Kollam, and possibly from the Kundara constituency.

This is the constituency that elected CPI-M veteran MA Baby in 2006 and 2011.

The BJP may field superstar Suresh Gopi.

Last year, Gopi was reportedly promised the chairmanship of the National Film Development Corp (NFDC) by the BJP. But he never got it.

According to informed sources, Gopi has been asked to get ready to contest for an assembly seat which the BJP would identify.

In most likelihood, it would be either in the capital district or in Pathanamthitta district.

Actor Jagdeesh campaigned for select Congress-led UDF candidates in the 2011 assembly elections. Veteran actress Sheela’s name props up at times as a possible Congress candidate.

The names of Sreenivasan and Venu, both stars in their own right, have also surfaced as possible candidates.

Some actors feel that the Congress is not keen to put up candidates in elections.

In the late 70s, the name of the legendary hero of the Malayalam film industry Prem Nazir was often speculated as a possible Congress candidate but this never happened.

A film star told IANS: “When the CPI-M selects a film or cultural personality, they give their heart and soul for that candidate.

“But the Congress attitude is that film personalities need to be given some chairman’s post and not a seat to contest. They feel that film stars should be at the mercy of Congress leaders,” the star added.

Both political and film industry sources say the picture will become clear in a month’s time. (Sanu George, IANS)(Photo: Tehelka)

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Small parties gain importance in Kerala as election come closer

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Chennai Floods

Thiruvananthapuram: With assembly elections round the corner, small political parties in Kerala have begun scrambling for their place in the sun. During elections, they punch much beyond their weight, though remaining irrelevant most of the other times.

Those that would see a rejuvenation in the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF), at least in their efforts to attract attention, include the Janathiyapathiya Samreskhena Samithi (JSS) and the Communist Marxist Party (CMP), both of which have split vertically in the last one year, with rival factions of each moving towards the CPI-M led Left Democratic Front( LDF).

But the going is not likely to be easy. Neither of these parties has any representation in the assembly, even after the JSS contested four seats and the CMP three in the 2011 assembly polls.

KK Shaju, who is in the JSS faction in the ruling UDF, said that he had been told by the coalition that it would be difficult to give JSS seats.

“They have said that a seat for me could be considered, but the catch is that I have to join the Congress,” Shaju, who won twice earlier but had lost in the 2011 polls, told IANS.

The CMP floated by former veteran CPI-M leader MV Raghavan, a state minister in the earlier UDF cabinet, saw a split in the party after Raghavan passed away in 2014.

In 2011, the CMP was given three seats but lost all of them, including Raghavan’s. The party now is led by State Planning Board member CP John, who too lost in the 2011 polls.

Another party — Kerala Congress (Pillai) — led by R Balakrishna Pillai — a former minister and one of the founders of the UDF in the early eighties, was given two seats to contest in 2011. It won one. Early this year, following difference with the UDF, the party moved out. But it has not been taken in by the Left Democratic Front (LDF), the other major alliance in the state.

Six-time legislator PC George, who lost his legislatorship last month for defying a directive of his party (Kerala Congress-Mani, an ally of the UDF), has revived his Kerala Congress (Secular). But it is doubtful if he would be accommodated as an ally in the LDF.

“To win in my Poonjar constituency, I do not need the support of anyone, but since I will remain only a legislator, I may not contest this time,” remarked George, who recently met CPI-M politburo member Pinarayi Vijayan but did not get any assurance.

In the LDF, the smaller parties also include the Indian National League which was given three seats to contest last time and the Congress-S that got one seat. Neither of them could win.

Fearing what they perceive would be shoddy treatment by the Congress party leadership in Kerala, the allies of the UDF had expressed their fears to party president Sonia Gandhi earlier this week when she was on a one-day visit to the state. They said they should be “treated with respect” when seat distribution talks begin.

“We told her that there should be a fair distribution of seats,” said former legislator and Kerala Congress (Jacob) party leader Johnny Nellore, who last won the polls in 2001.

The lone legislator of his party, Anup Jacob, is the State Minister for Food and Civil Supplies.

A senior leader, who did not want to be named summed up the dilemma: “The small parties are the bane of the fronts. They dominate when the margin between the rival fronts is close. Even a single party legislator has to be made a minister.They win with the votes of the majority party, but run their portfolio as their personal fiefdom.”

There are eight parties in the UDF while the LDF has six with George’s and Pillai’s parties in neither of the fronts.(Sanu George, IANS)