CPM plans to field Megastar Mammootty for LS seat

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Ernakulam: The Kerala unit of CPI(M) is considering to field movie megastar Mammootty as its candidate in Ernakulam constituency in Kerala. In an article that appeared on national daily 'the pioneer', it was reported that Mammootty will replace sitting MP Sebastian Paul in the upcoming Loksabha elections. Neither the party nor Mammootty is ready to confirm or deny the report, but party sources say that there is no harm in making the actor a Left candidate in the election.

It is said that Mammootty has not yet agreed to the idea though there is immense pressure on him from the CPI(M). Sources close to the star are saying that Mammootty is unlikely to accept the suggestion from any party to contest election as its official candidate or as an Independent. However, party sources said it was premature to draw any conclusions.

The CPI(M) is weighing the option of fielding Mammootty in Ernakulam due to the conviction that winning this seat, where the Congress-led UDF is very strong, will be difficult this time as there are many factors that are weighing against the Left. The party feels that Sebastian Paul, despite his advantages being a Latin Catholic in the constituency with a huge Christian presence, has lost popularity among the voters.

The only factor in favour of Sebastian Paul is his religious affiliation, which is something that should count very seriously in the coming election. The Catholic Church and the CPI(M) are not in the best of their relations now after the several rows regarding issues like the admissions and fees in self-financing professional colleges, Government move to introduce reforms in aided school administration, Class VII Social Science textbook and, most recently, the State Law Reforms Commission"s proposal for legislation to control the growth of Christian population.

It is very difficult to bag the Ernakulam Lok Sabha seat for the CPI(M) in such a situation. Party functionaries are of the opinion that the problems the party is facing in Ernakulam are not easy to be overcome by the mere fielding of a Latin Catholic as candidate. Moreover, the UDF will also be fielding, most probably, a Latin Catholic in Ernakulam.

In such a situation, the party leaders, field the candidate should have a charisma that can overcome all other drawbacks the party had in the constituency. The only person the party can think about in this circumstance is Mammootty. CPI(M) leaders are reportedly hopeful of making Mammootty agree to the proposal.

Mammootty has always been a Left fellow-traveller despite, and has been the chairman of party controlled Karali TV right from its launch. The party had once tried to nominate him to the Rajya Sabha but the star had declined the offer. The leaders are of the opinion that Mammootty would agree to them if they could convince the star about its uncertain position in Ernakulam constituency. They also think that Mammootty cannot ignore such proposal if CPI(M) State secretary Pinarayi Vijayan makes it because they are such close friends.

The party thinks that Mammootty will have many plus points as a candidate in Ernakulam. Though he hails from Chembu, Vaikom in Kottayam district, he is widely known as a native of Ernakulam, as he has been staying in Kochi since his entry into the world of films.

Mammootty has a large fan following in Ernakulam as a film star and this could come handy in an election. Also, a platoon of film stars would come to Ernakulam for campaigning if he becomes the candidate.

It is not the first time the CPI(M) is trying to filed a film star in an election. It had
fielded award-winning actor Murali in Alappuzha constituency in the 1999 Lok Sabha elections, but unsuccessfully. But if Mammootty agrees to contest in Ernakulam it will be first time a super star is entering the electoral battle field.

Indeed, the CPI(M) is worried about the hazards of pulling Sebastian Paul from the scene. Such a step also could antagonise the pro-Left Latin Catholics in the constituency which could further worsen its already sore relations with the Church. The CPI(M) effort then would be to find another suitable constituency for Sebastian Paul. But there is a section in the party that feels Sebastian Paul has used up all his possibilities. Apart from all this, secretary Pinarayi Vijayan is not much enthusiastic about propping him up.

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