The ruling Left Democratic Front in Kerala will field six sitting MPs and an equal number of MLAs in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, PTI reported.

Communist Party of India (Marxist) State Secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan on Saturday said his party, the biggest partner in the Left Front, will field a total of 16 candidates. These include six MPs and four MLAs. The alliance is led by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

The second biggest ally, the Communist Party of India, will contest four seats. Kerala has a total of 20 Lok Sabha constituencies.

Two women and two Independent candidates backed by the CPI(M) are part of the list. The other coalition partners of the Left Democratic Front have been left with no candidates.

The opposition United Democratic Front and the Bharatiya Janata Party are yet to officially announce their list.

Balakrishnan said the elections were crucial to increasing the Left Front’s strength in Parliament and the sitting legislators were chosen after considering their winnability. “It is not for the first time that sitting MLAs are contesting,” he said. “In 2009, four MLAs of the opposition United Democratic Front had contested. It has happened on several other occasions also.”

The six sitting CPI(M) MPs who will contest the polls are Innocent from Chalakkudy constituency, Joice George from Idukki, MB Rajesh from Palakkad, PK Biju from Alathur, A Sampath from Attingal, and PK Sreemathi from Kannur. The four sitting party MLAs are AM Arif from Alappuzha, Veena George from Pathanamthitta, A Pradeep Kumar from Kozhikode and PV Anwar from Ponnani. Of these, George and Anwar are CPI(M)-backed Independents.

Meanwhile, the CPI will field sitting MLAs C Divakaran and Chittayam Gopakumar in Thiruvananthapuram and Mavelikkara constituencies, respectively. PP Suneer of the party will fight from Wayanad and Rajaji Mathew Thomas from Thrissur.

Balakrishnan said the BJP’s decision to field Mizoram Governor Kummanam Rajasekharan in Thiruvananthapuram will not affect the results and the real fight would be between the ruling alliance and the Congress-led UDF, The Hindu reported. If the BJP was so confident, it could have fielded Prime Minister Narendra Modi or party chief Amit Shah from Thiruvananthapuram, he said.

Rajasekharan, who was president of the BJP’s Kerala unit before being appointed governor of Mizoram in May 2018, resigned from his post on Friday.

In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the Congress-led UDF had won 12 seats. The LDF alliance had won eight, while the BJP had failed to open its account in the state.