How top 10 politicos stack up in Kerala polls….. A special report by Sanu George
The upcoming assembly elections in Kerala will be of crucial significance for 10 top political leaders, not all running for office, and are likely to be the swansong of a few.
The 10 include three each from the Congress, CPI-M and the BJP, each of which leads a larger political front.
From the Congress, there are Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, state party president V.M. Sudheeran and Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala – for whom the May 16 vote would be a defining moment.
From the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), there are former chief minister V.S. Achuthanandan, politburo member Pinarayi Vijayan and state party secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan.
From the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which hopes this time to open its account in the Kerala assembly, there are state party president Kummanem Rajasekheran, former union minister O. Rajagopal and former state party president and convenor of the elections V. Muraleedharan.
The joker in the pack is Velapally Natesan, the popular Hindu Ezhava leader and supremo of the recently formed Bharath Dharma Jana Sena (BDJS) which is part of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
While seven of the 10 leaders are contesting the election, Sudheeran, Balakrishnan and Natesan are not.
Achuthanandan, who at 92 is at the very fag end of his career, continues to be a crowd puller and a much sought after campaigner for the opposition Left Democratic Front (LDF).
Should the LDF come to power, which is likely given Kerala’s electoral history, this battle-hardened veteran might seek at least a year in office.
If the LDF fails to make it to office, it’s anyone’s guess as to what Achuthanandan’s place in Kerala’s politics is going to be.
On the other hand, Chandy is almost certain to be in the chief ministerial seat again if the Congress-led United Democratic Front upsets Kerala’s electoral history and regains power.
And if that does not happen, it could be the last hurrah for this 72 year old; he could well sign off in style by completing his golden jubilee as a legislator, as no one seems to believe he won’t get elected to the 14th Kerala assembly.
Equally challenging is what’s in store for Vijayan, who last year stepped down as the CPI-M state secretary after close to two decades of running the party.
This could well be his last chance of getting power.
For Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) strongman Rajasekheran, it was a surprise selection to the top post in the party. If the ‘lotus’ blooms in Kerala, he is in line for more glory and if it does not happen, his post itself could be in for a change.
For Natesan, who until the 2014 Lok Sabha polls maintained equidistance from all political formations, it could be rise to be a significant force in the state’s politics.
Alternatively, the counting of votes would determine if Natesan’s presence helped either of the traditional UDF/LDF fronts.
Chennithala has age on his side. So the outcome of this election will have the least impact on his career, among the 10 leaders.
But if the Congress is in for a long-term hibernation in Kerala, so is he.
For Sudheeran, a loss could well be curtains for him.
Balakrishnan, on the other hand, is also on safe ground as he has got two more years for his tenure to end.
Last but not the least, all eyes would be on Rajagopal. If he wins, good for him.
If not, will the BJP give him the post of governor that has been eluding him for quite a while now?