Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala's assembly elections are only months away but it is becoming increasingly clear that leading parties are tipped to field well-known Malayalam film stars as candidates.
The list of actors and actresses who may plunge into the electoral battle is slowly growing: Suresh Gopi, Mukesh, Jagdish, Sreenivasan, Nedumudi Venu, yesteryear glamour heroine Sheela...
The Kerala polls are set to be held in April or May, and it will see another close fight between the Left Democratic Front (LDF) headed by the CPI-M and the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF).
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has never won an assembly or Lok Sabha seat in Kerala, is determined to break the jinx.
The Left has always led from the front when it comes to fielding film and cultural personalities.
In the past, the Left has fielded award winning director Lenin Rajendran in the Lok Sabha polls against former president K.R. Narayanan.
Another popular film personality fielded by the Left was late actor Murali, against the present Congress president in Kerala.
While both lost, the shocker came in the 2014 Lok Sabha battle when the CPI-M fielded popular comedian and character artiste Innocent, who trounced Congress veteran and outgoing MP P.C. Chacko in the Chalakudy Lok Sabha constituency
"With Innocent winning hands down, do not be surprised if we decide to field one or perhaps even two persons from the film industry in the assembly polls," a Left leader told IANS on the condition of anonymity.
Popular character actor Mukesh, whose Left leanings are known, is most likely to be fielded from his home district Kollam, and possibly from the Kundara constituency.
This is the constituency that elected CPI-M veteran M.A.Baby in 2006 and 2011.
The BJP may field superstar Suresh Gopi.
Last year, Gopi was reportedly promised the chairmanship of the National Film Development Corp (NFDC) by the BJP. But he never got it.
According to informed sources, Gopi has been asked to get ready to contest for an assembly seat which the BJP would identify.
In most likelihood, it would be either in the capital district or in Pathanamthitta district.
Actor Jagdeesh campaigned for select Congress-led UDF candidates in the 2011 assembly elections. Veteran actress Sheela's name props up at times as a possible Congress candidate.
The names of Sreenivasan and Venu, both stars in their own right, have also surfaced as possible candidates.
Some actors feel that the Congress is not keen to put up candidates in elections.
In the late 70s, the name of legendary hero of the Malayalam film industry Prem Nazir was often speculated as a possible Congress candidate but this never happened.
A film star told IANS: "When the CPI-M selects a film or cultural personality, they give their heart and soul for that candidate.
"But the Congress attitude is that film personalities need to be given some chairman's post and not a seat to contest. They feel that film stars should be at the mercy of Congress leaders," the star added.
Both political and film industry sources say the picture will become clear in a month's time.