Thiruvananthapuram: The BJP in Kerala, which is yet to open its account in the 140-member legislative assembly, on Sunday named 85-year-old former union minister O. Rajagopal as its candidate for the June 27 by-election for the Aruvikkara seat.
"The decision to field Rajagopal has been forwarded to the national leadership," the Bharatiya Janata Party's state president V. Muraleedharan told reporters here after a meeting of the party's top brass.
The decision has to be ratified by the party's national leadership.
The by-election in the rural constituency in the capital district was necessitated following the death of assembly speaker G. Karthikeyan in March.
Aruvikkara will see a three-cornered battle with Karthikeyan's 31-year-old son K.S. Sabarinathan as the Congress nominee and 65-year-old M. Vijayakumar of the CPI-M, who is also a former speaker and minister, in the fray besides Rajagopal, the most powerful BJP leader from Kerala.
Rajagopal has contested from the Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha constituency thrice -- 1999, 2004 and 2014 -- and always met with failure.
In 2014, he finished in second place behind Congress candidate Shashi Tharoor.
He also contested the 2011 assembly polls from Nemon constituency in the capital district and came second. Again in the 2012 by-election in Neyyatinkara he found success eluding him though managed to get more than 30,000 votes.
In the 2011 assembly polls, the BJP candidate secured around 7,200 votes in Aruvikkara, but Karthikeyan won with a margin of over 10,000.