Intra-party feuding marks Cong. list announcement

Mahila Cong. chief tonsures head in protest against denial of ticket

Political theatre marked the unveiling of the Congress candidates list in New Delhi. It also offered a striking split-screen moment for television news channels in Kerala.

The live telecast from the KPCC headquarters at Indira Bhavan here did not seem to augur well for the image of unity the party leadership had attempted to project painstakingly.

Immediately after KPCC president Mullappally Ramachandran reeled out the contestants’ names, television cameras panned to the Congress State headquarters.

Mahila Congress president Lathika Subash faced the cameras and said the KPCC had passed her over for an Assembly seat. She created sensational prime time news content by having a hairdresser give her a tonsure in full view of live cameras.

Ms. Subash announced her resignation as president. She hinted she would contest from her home town in Ettumanur as an Independent. The Congress had given the seat to P.J. Joseph faction of the Kerala Congress. Ms. Subash said the KPCC had sacrificed women representation at the altar of group politics. She had been active in the Congress for four decades. However, leaders had chosen newcomers over her.

Several Congress leaders who were denied party tickets appeared to find common cause with Ms. Subash. UDF convener M.M. Hassan said the party had done Ms. Subash wrong. Former Kochi Mayor Soumini Jain and Rajmohan Unnithan, MP, aired similar sentiments. Mahila Congress saw a slew of resignations. Activists said the KPCC had reneged on its promise to reserve 20% seats for women.

Former KPCC president V.M. Sudheeran said the Congress faced unprecedented protests from workers over the lopsided allotment of party tickets. He said groups had prevailed over the process. Another leader said ‘A’ and ‘I’ faction leaders had wangled seats for their loyalists from under the nose of the AICC.

Factionalism appeared to plague candidate selection. Irrikur, Nemom, Thripunithara and Chadayamangalam saw Congress "groups" feuding over party tickets.

Mr. Ramachandran said the AICC had finalised the matrix of candidate selection. K. Muraleedheeran, MP, said Ms. Subash should have avoided the theatrics in front of Indira Bhavan.

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