The BJP top brass in New Delhi has named former Union Minister and senior BJP leader Pon Radhakrishnan as its candidate for the April 6 bypoll to the Kanyakumari Lok Sabha constituency in Tamil Nadu. The seat fell vacant after the Congress MP Vasanthakumar succumbed to COVID-19 in August last year.
This bypoll will be held on the same day as the elections to the 234 assembly seats in Tamil Nadu on April 6.
On Friday night (March 5), the long-drawn out seat-sharing talks between the BJP and its primary ally in the south, the AIADMK, for the assembly elections were finally sealed. Besides the 20 seats that have been allotted to the national party, the AIADMK has given it the Kanyakumari parliamentary segment as well and has extended its backing to the candidate.
Radhakrishnan is not a stranger to the constituency — he won from Kanyakumari in the 1996 and 2014 parliamentary polls.
In fact, he told journalists after being chosen as the BJP candidate for Kanyakumari that he hardly needed to be “introduced” to the people of the area. Though he had lost from this constituency in the 2019 Parliamentary elections to the late Vasanthakumar, he said the people of Kanyakumari had always turned to him for help.
After he had won the 2014 elections, Radhakrishnan, a former state BJP president, served as minister of state of finance and shipping till 2019.
Before the seat-sharing talks were finalised with the AIADMK, the BJP issued a statement in New Delhi that its Central Election Committee (CEC), which had met earlier under the party’s national president JP Nadda had given the nod for Radhakrishnan’s candidature. The meeting was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Home Minister Amit Shah.
Meanwhile, Congress leaders said that the Kanyakumari constituency, which had sent Congress stalwarts like the former TN chief minister and “kingmaker’ K Kamaraj and Marshall A Nesamony to the Lok Sabha, will pose a challenge for Radhakrishnan.
Sivaganga Congress MP Karti Chidambaram tweeted that the party should nominate Priyanka Gandhi as the candidate from this constituency.