The Aam Aadmi Party's Facebook page in Kerala has an astonishing 3,10,797 "Likes". This shows that there is much more support online for the party headed by Arvind Kejriwal than for the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (which has 1,184 "Likes") and the ruling Congress (with 942).

That, of course, does not reflect the AAP's electoral possibilities in the state. An opinion poll conducted in February by the Institute for Monitoring Economic Growth in Thiruvananthapuram showed that AAP doesn’t stand much of a chance in Kerala.

For more than three decades, Kerala's politics has been a polarised two-horse race, with the Congress-led United Democratic Front and the CPI-M-led Left Democratic Front alternating in power. A third party is likely to find it hard to make inroads in to the social bases of these two dominant groupings. Despite trying for several years, the Bharatiya Janata Party has never been able to win a seat in the assembly.

But that hasn’t dampened the spirit of AAP's volunteers. The party's one-week-old office in Thiruvananthapuram, the state capital, is situated next to an open sewer, but inside it hums with activity, as volunteers go about their tasks like old party hands.

In Kochi, a team of ten volunteers runs the AAP Kerala Facebook page. Each day, they generate and post six stories about the party written by well-known people, such as Mary Roy, an educator, who is also writer and activist Arundathi Roy’s mother.

Set up on January 13, AAP Kerala had 165,000 registered members as of February 7, three-fourths of whom are under 40 years of age, said the Manoj Padmanabhan, the state convener who has no previous experience in politics.

Nine out of 10 of these members have other jobs, something that the AAP encourages because it does not want people to depend on politics for their livelihood, which it feels increases the incentive for corruption. Padmanabhan, for instance, continues to work as a software engineer.

What AAP has going for it in the state is the high calibre of people it has attracted. It has announced its candidates in three of 20 of Kerala's constituencies, and plans to field seven more candidates.

The latest entrant is journalist-turned-writer Anita Pratap, who is almost certainly going to contest from Ernakulam against Professor KV Thomas, the union minister of state for food and civil supplies. Pratap is remembered for her work with Time magazine before she shifted to reporting for CNN. Her coverage of the Sri Lankan civil war came in for special praise. In 1983, she became the first journalist to score an interview with V Prabhakaran, the chief of the Liberation Tigers of the Tamil Eelam.

"Journalism was a means of social service, but I found that through journalism, even with all the risks involved, nothing changed," she told on Tuesday. "I did a study of how other countries implemented policies. In India, the political arena is captured by traditional politicians for most of whom this is a means of becoming rich."

She said that she decided to join AAP because she "wants to serve all sections of the society and because AAP has picked up the right issues." She added, "Moreover I identify with Kejriwal's courage."

Two other candidates were announced earlier. Sarah Joseph, a well-known writer, will run from Thrissur, the city that is often described as Kerala's cultural capital. AAP has made a clever move by selecting Joseph to run from here, because she is a household name in this city. From her paperbacks to her appearances on talk shows, she has a strong presence in public life.

In the capital, Thiruvananthapuram, APP is fielding Ajith Joy, an Indian Police Service officer. "Having worked in the police department, I have witnessed corruption and exploitation of the common man," he told “In AAP, we do not make any false promises. Instead, we are compiling citizens' grievances and we will prioritise our work accordingly. Decentralisation of power, safety for women and step-by-step eradication of corruption are a few of our immediate priorities."

Joy is likely to face Shashi Tharoor, the Congress's union human resource development minister of state. Tharoor won his seat in the 2009 general election with an astonishing margin of 99,998 votes. Does that scare Joy? “There is pent-up anger and frustration because of the governance paralysis. I believe this city is now ready for AAP.”

AAP employed a stringent procedure to select these two candidates. A seven-member panel, which consisted of a retired judge, a senior journalist, an AAP representative, an advocate and three other senior activists interviewed all applicants.

The process had its critics. NS Madhavan, a former IAS officer and a writer, called it a sham. If Medha Patkar could get a direct entry in Maharashtra, he said, why was AAP putting one of Kerala's finest writers through a screening procedure, he asked.

Joseph, though, did not mind. “The interview was more of a discussion about the current issues in Kerala, and apart from that I was asked why I wanted to join the AAP," she said. "I think this process proves that this party is scrupulous from the beginning.”

In a state with a 95.5 per cent literacy rate and a large intelligentsia, it's clear that AAP has great appeal, but it isn't clear how this will translate into votes. “The sudden entry of the AAP into Kerala is unsettling, but I think it is too soon for either parties to feel threatened. They are sowing the seeds, but reaping them will take a long time.”