On March 14, Kerala Mahila Congress chief Lathika Subhash sat in front of the Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) office in Thiruvananthapuram and got her head tonsured. She was protesting the fact that her name was not on the party’s list of candidates released in New Delhi hours earlier.
Subhash, 57, had initially wanted to contest from Etumanoor constituency in Kottayam and had sought the support of senior leaders for this. But the Congress offered the seat to coalition partner Kerala Congress (Joseph) or the KC(J). The Mahila Congress chief then wanted to contest from Vypeen in Ernakulam district. But the seat went to Youth Congress leader Deepak Joy.
Kerala has been witnessing some strong protests after the candidates’ lists of the three fronts came out. The assembly poll is just weeks away (April 6) but resentment against official candidates is spreading like a viral infection cutting across party lines. After the BJP and Congress announced their candidates on March 14, there were protests in a number of places.
“Enough is enough. I’ve been working for the Congress since I was a child. I wanted to contest from Ettumanoor and told both Oommen Chandy (ex-CM) and Ramesh Chennithala (leader of the Opposition) about my preference. I even met Chandy on March 13 and sought his support,” Lathika told indiatoday.in.
She is now contesting as an independent candidate from Ettumanoor. Her defiance will harm the Congress as she has always been a frontline leader, even taking on the formidable ex-chief minister V.S. Achuthanandan in the 2011 assembly poll from Malampuzha.
A Congress faction in Kannur district protested against party candidate and PCC secretary Sajeev Joseph who figured in the list from Irikkoor. Some 5 PCC secretaries, 22 DCC office-bearers and several local party leaders resigned en masse to protest the decision. They allege that Sajeev got the seat because of his proximity to AICC general secretary K.C. Venugopal. Even Congress state working president and Kannur MP K. Sudhakaran has criticised the manner in which candidate selection was done.