By Sanu George
Thiruvananthapuram, Apr 13 (IANS): The Kerala unit of the CPI-M known for its perseverance in fighting out legal battles, finally emerged victorious after the Election Commission was forced to admit in the High Court that they will conduct the Rajya Sabha polls to fill in three seats from the state which will fall vacant on April 21.
The Election Commission, last month after first deciding to conduct the elections, all of a sudden decided to freeze the polls on the grounds that the new Kerala Assembly would elect the three Rajya Sabha members.
Irked by this sudden change of mind, the Kerala CPI-M decided to approach the Kerala High Court and after a legal battle was able to change the decision of the EC and on Monday they came out with the decision to hold the polls on April 30.
The last date of filing of nominations is April 20th and the last date of withdrawal is April 23rd with April 30th the polling day.
Incidentally, the CPI-M was peeved the way things changed suddenly because the results of the April 6 Assembly polls will be out on May 2 and if electoral history is repeated, that no sitting government in the state has been able to retain power, it would be a big loss for the ruling Left because if the new Assembly members will be electing the three members to the Upper House, the Left will be able to win only one seat.
The ruling Left Democratic Front convenor A. Vijayaraghavan said the Centre was trying to influence the EC to defer the polls and surprisingly the Congress did not utter a word.
"The LDF will meet and very soon announce the candidates," said Vijayaraghavan.
The retiring three members from Kerala include Congress veteran Vayalar Ravi, Indian Union Muslim League leader P.V. Abdul Wahab and CPI-M leader K.K. Raghesh.
The Congress-led UDF has decided to field Wahab again and the CPI-M according to sources will decide on their candidates only after holding discussions with the national leadership of the CPI-M.
Things are still not clear if the CPI-M will take both the seats or will it handover one seat to any of their allies.
With Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan turning Covid positive and convalescing at the Kozhikode Medical College, he will continue to have the final say and it would be touch and go for former top Congress leader Cherian Phillip.
Phillip, who revolted in 2001 after the Congress party denied him a ticket and he left the party, only to be fielded by the CPI-M against Oommen Chandy in the 2001 Assembly polls.
After Phillip lost, he, however, became a strong fellow traveller of the CPI-M and he was given the prized post of the chairman of the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation in 2006.
In 2011 he was fielded against K. Muraleedharan in the upcountry Vatiyoorkavu constituency in the state capital, but he lost.
And after Pinarayi Vijayan assumed office in 2016, Phillip was given a cabinet status post in one of Vijayan's pet projects. With Vijayan being a strong supporter of Phillip, chances are bright for him.
State Finance Minister Thomas Issac could also be a contender. After being denied ticket for Assembly polls in accordance with the rules of the CPI-M that a legislator who has had two terms need not be fielded again for the Assembly, there is a talk that he might be sent to the Upper House. But according to sources close to him, the former economics professor wishes to apply for a one year leave to pursue his academic career.
The name of Vijayaraghavan who holds the post of the LDF convenor and is also the acting secretary of the CPI-M, is another name which is doing the rounds.
But it remains to be seen if he would get it, as his wife contested the Assembly elections.
Should the Left retain power, she is all set to become a minister and hence it is unlikely that he will get the Upper House seat and the only thing that weighs heavily in favour of him, is his closeness with Vijayan.