Congress, after week-long deliberations finally zeroed in on former state president K Muralidharan to take on the tallest CPIM leader in the fray, P Jayarajan at Vatakara.
Even after finalising candidates for all seats including Wayanad in which ‘A’ and ‘I’ factions in state fought for days, Vatakara remained a hindrance to conclude the talks as the incumbent, Mullappally Ramachandran, who is also the KPCC president, was adamant on his stand that he will not contest again. Congress examined several names including some new faces from the constituency but failed to reach a consensus. Every hour, news channels aired new names and Vatakara became a butt of a joke on social media. Congress could not have afforded to elongate the discussions further.
This move will be a boost for Muraleedharan who is struggling to find a space after his return to the Congress party in 2011. Once a tall leader in the state Congress, Muraleedharan left the party along with his father and sidelined leader K Karunakaran, to make a new party. Both of them later joined NCP. Father made an early return to Congress while son waited for a few more years. He is representing Vattiyoorkavu constituency in Thiruvananthapuram district since 2011. He defeated Kummanam Rajasekharan in 2016. After several leaders in his party refused to contest from Vatakara, Muraleedharan literally saved the face of the grand old party in its sitting seat. Even if he loses in the election, he will grow as an undeniable leader in state politics.
The 61-year-old leader has also been to Lok Sabha thrice from Kozhikode constituency, between 1989 and 1999. He was the president of the KPCC from 2001 to 2004.