CPI-M in Kerala, which has a strong political base and popular leaders, has sprung a surprise by shortlisting some independents as its candidates for the April 10 Lok Sabha polls.
With seat sharing discussion progressing among LDF allies, the party shortlisted five non-party members of which candidature of three has been finalised.
It is significant as CPI-M, which is contesting in 15 seats allotted to it out of the 20 Lok Sabha constituencies, has gone for independent candidates including a former Congress leader in five seats.
Prominent among them is Innocent, popular Malayalam actor known for his comedy roles, who will be contesting from Chalakkudy seat in Thrissur district, which was won by K P Dhanapalan of Congress by a margin of more than 70,000 votes.
The Party has nominated former Gujarat cadre IAS officer Christy Fernandeze, who was Secretary to former President Prathibha Patil, with an eye on the Latin Catholic votes in Ernakulam constituency.
Fernandez will take on sitting MP and Union Minister K V Thomas. Both belong to the Latin Catholic community, which has a sizeable presence in Ernakulam.
Another surprise is the choice of AICC member Philipose Thomas to contest from Pathanamthitta seat. He was the DCC president of Pathanamthitta district when he resigned from Congress after he was denied Lok Sabha seat.
Similarly, CPI-M has proposed the name of V Abdurahman to contest from Ponnani, a strong hold of IUML, where sitting MP E T Muhammed Basheer (IUML) won by a margin of 50,000 in 2009.
The party is also considering an independent candidate in Idukki which witnessed a spate of protests over Kasturirangan report against state and Centre.
It is not the CPI-M alone that has gone for 'outsiders' as candidates, CPI, the second largest partner in the Left coalition, has nominated former member of Public Service Commission and a prominent member of the Church of South India Bennet P Abraham to contest from Thiruvananthapuram.
His selection was made despite objections from several members of CPI-M's state executive and state council.
In the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, the Left opted for just one non-party candidate, who lost heavily in the Ponnani constituency.
The CPI-M in the past has unsuccessfully fielded film personalities like director Lenin Rajendran and also late actor Murali.