Cong. in no hurry to announce candidates

Party caught in the pulls and pressures of factional politics

The Congress leadership appeared to be in no hurry to announce the candidates for the four seats it will be contesting in the October 21 Assembly byelections, caught as it with the pulls and pressures of factional politics and claims of aspirants.

The leadership troika comprising Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala, Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president Mullappally Ramachandran and All India Congress Committee general secretary Oommen Chandy held several rounds of discussions on candidate selection. The KPCC election panel met this morning to deliberate on the selection of candidates for the four seats vacated by sitting legislators.

Several names were considered, prominent among being N. Peethambara Kurup from Vattiyurkavu, Robin Peter from Konni and T.J. Vinod from Ernakulam, all owing their allegiance to Mr. Chennithala. The seats were earlier contested by those belonging to his faction and according to the arrangements within the Congress, it would be the prerogative of Mr. Chennithala to nominate candidates for these seats. Former AICC secretary Shanimol Usman is being considered for the Aroor seat, considering the lead she had in the Lok Sabha election from this Assembly segment. Her name has been bracketed along with that of C.R. Jayaprakash, who is identified with Mr. Chandy.

Mr. Ramachandran told media persons that the party would announce its candidate by Thursday evening after further rounds of discussions. Going by tone and tenor of the discussions, the Congress leadership appears to be reluctant to go in for an experiment in the byelections, hoping to consolidate its existing political positions. It hopes to maintain status quo, whether in terms of factional arrangements or other criteria it normally applies while carrying out such exercises.

The party will also have to seriously consider fielding a candidate from the Ezhava community from one of the constituencies. The party does not have a legislator from this community and the pressure is on the party to provide a representation from a constituency with the possibility of winning comfortably. But Aroor is not an easy seat for the UDF because the electorate there have always leant towards the Left.

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