Congress releases Kerala candidates list, Thomas axed
New Delhi/Thiruvananthapuram, March 16 : The Congress, which is contesting 16 of Kerala's 20 Lok Sabha seats, on Saturday announced 12 of its candidates. While most of its eight sitting MPs have been re-nominated, a shock exclusion was of former Union Minister K.V. Thomas.
Thomas, the sitting member from Ernakulam, has been replaced by young legislator Hibi Eden.
In Kerala, where polling will be held on April 23, in the third of the seven phase Lok Sabha elections, the other four seats will be contested by other members of the Congress-led United Democratic Front - the Indian Union Muslim League 2, and the Revolutionary Socialist Party and and the Kerala Congress-Mani one each.
The Congress's first list, released in Delhi, includes sitting MPs Shashi Tharoor (Thiruvananthapuram), Kodikunnil Suresh (Mavelikera) M.K. Raghavan (Kozhikode) and Anto Antony (Pathanamthitta).
The other candidates are Raj Mohan Unnithan (Kasargode), K. Sudhakaran (Kannur), V.K. Sreekantan (Palakkad), Remya Haridas (Alathur), Benny Behanan (Chalakudy), T.N. Pratapan (Thrissur), and Dean Kuriakose (Idukki).
State party President Mullapally Ramachandran, who is the sitting MP from Vadakara, had already made it clear that he took over the state chief on the condition that he will not seek re-election, while K.C. Venugopal, who represents Alappuzha, and has been appointed the party General Secretary, Organization, has also said that he will not contest because of his added responsibilities.
M.I. Shahnawaz, the sitting member from Wayanad, had passed away last year.
Candidates for Alappuzha, Wayanad, Attingal and Vadakara is expected to be announced on Sunday.
Expressing his anguish, Thomas, considered close to former Congress President Sonia Gandhi, told media in Delhi that being left out is by far the biggest shock of his life.
"Is being 72 years my fault... I do not know what wrong I have done. I have been a seven-time member and no one had given any hint of what has happened now. I have not been told the reason on why I have been left out. No one can make me a curry leaf to be thrown away," said a peeved Thomas, who was a Minister in the second UPA government.
Eden said he has just got the information about his nomination and am happy to contest.
"I am sure Thomas will be there to guide me through the campaign," he said.
Unnithan, a long-time party spokesperson and known for his quick wit, had a quick retort when asked about his chances from Kasargode in north Kerala since he hails from Kollam in the state's south.
"I will reach where I have to reach (the Lok Sabha)," he said.
Young Remya Haridas, presently president of a local body in her home town, said that she is confident of her chances as she has been working with the people for a while.