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V.S. Sivakumar, Pannian Ravindran in fray

Special Correspondent



Pannian Ravindran

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The battle lines in the Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha byelection is almost clear with the Congress picking former MP V. S. Sivakumar as the UDF nominee and the CPI deciding to field party State assistant secretary Pannian Ravindran to be the LDF candidate. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is understood to have decided to field former State party president C. K. Padmanabhan, but the formal announcement of his candidature is likely only on Tuesday.

The Congress decision to field Mr. Sivakumar, who had represented the constituency during 1999-2004, was announced by Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president Ramesh Chennithala and the CPI decision to field Mr. Ravindran was announced by party State secretary Veliyam Bhargavan. The BJP leadership took the decision to field Mr. Padmanabhan late Sunday evening, but chose to wait for the approval from the party Central Parliamentary Board before the decision was formally announced.

The young and affable Mr. Sivakumar is currently one of the KPCC general secretaries. Although he had hit political limelight as a camp follower of K. Karunakaran and became an MP as the veteran leader's nominee, he had chosen to remain in the parent party when Mr. Karunakaran floated the Democratic Indira Congress (Karunakaran) earlier this year. In the 2004 Lok Sabha election, the late Vasudevan Nair had defeated him by a margin of 54,603 votes.



V.S. Sivakumar

Fifty six-year-old Ravindran, a clean politician who leads a Spartan life and amiable ways, is the most articulate among the current crop of CPI leaders and the party's virtual spokesman. He has been keeping away from electoral politics and was reluctant to enter the fray even this time, but has had to bow to pressure from party elders. Hailing from Kakkad in Kannur district, Mr. Ravindran began his political career as a student activist and was the State president of the All India Youth Federation (AIYF) and the CPI Kannur district secretary.

Mr. Padmanabhan, the probable BJP candidate, is also known for his genial nature, which has endeared him to masses beyond the BJP and the Sangh Parivar. The LDF had garnered 38.45 per cent of the total votes polled in 2004 against 30.30 per cent votes secured by the UDF. The BJP was a close third in the constituency with 29.86 per cent of the votes polled.

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