A 31-year-old management graduate, enlisted by the BJP to contest next month’s Kerala elections from the Mananthawady seat in the Wayanad district, has declined to contest the polls and announced that he was quitting politics.
Manikuttan was the first from the Paniya tribe that belongs to the region to have an MBA degree, the BJP had said, as it released a list of candidates on Sunday evening. The Mananthawady seat is reserved for Scheduled Tribes.
He said that he is refusing the party’s offer with “due respect” and he did not wish to be part of politics.
“Central leadership had announced me as the BJP candidate. I’m actually a common man, I do not want to get into the politics of elections. I want to have a job and family. So, I’m happily refusing this offer from the party,” Manikuttan said.
“I was surprised and panicked when I saw my name announced on TV. I am really happy that the BJP chose to field someone from the Paniya community. But I had told them over the phone itself that I would not be willing to be a BJP candidate,” he told NDTV.
The fiasco comes as the BJP tries to pitch a campaign in the state that has proved most impervious to its advances, led by its high-profile recruit 88-year-old “Metro Man” E Sreedharan.
The BJP has only one MLA in the state ruled by the Left Democratic Front, led by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
Mr Sreedharan has been drafted for the Palakkad assembly seat, a constituency where the party came runner up in the last state election.
The BJP is hoping to capitalise on the goodwill of Mr Sreedharan, a former engineer who led the Delhi Metro and other big infrastructure projects across the country, in the hope of getting winning more votes this time.
Other key candidates from the BJP are PK Krishnadas (Kattakada), CK Padmanabhan (Dharmadom), actor Suresh Gopi (Thrissur), K Alphons (Kanjirappally), academician Dr Abdul Salam (Tirur), Krsihnakumar (Thiruvananthapuram Central) and Jacob Thomas (Irinjalakuda), among others.
Kerala, which has long alternated between Left and Congress-led governments, will vote to elect a new one on April 6. Votes will be counted on May 2.