KOCHI: With the discussions to finalise Congress candidates for the Lok Sabha polls entering the next stage, it seems the ‘A’ and ‘I’ groups are in control of the things, ensuring seats for their respective supporters. As per the plan, both ‘A’ and ‘I’ factions would reach a consensus in the state itself, thereby averting intervention by the Congress high command. Both the groups know if the high command intervenes, they will be forced to accommodate candidates from outside the two factions, said a party source.
If both the factions have their way, AICC president Rahul Gandhi’s directive to induct fresh faces in the candidates’ list, including youth and women, will not see the light of the day. Earlier, KPCC president Mullappally Ramachandran had said the party would consider only winnability as the criterion for selecting candidates. But then another question arises as to whether the PCC chief could implement the high command guidelines in the selection of candidates or he would succumb to the pressure by both the factions.
If ‘A’ and ‘I’ have their way, it would sabotage the prospects of Shanimol Usman, a prominent woman leader whose name is doing the rounds in Wayanad constituency, KPCC working president T N Prathapan, K Sudhakaran and AIPC state president Mathew Kuzhalnadan - all of whom are expected to be in the fray, but do not belong to any of the groups. “In the surveys conducted by AICC and KPCC, names of many youngsters came up as winnable candidates. However, both the groups are not considering these names and many senior leaders who had lost in the last polls and are out of the limelight now, are pushing themselves to contest this time,” said a leader.
Former MPs P J Kurien, K P Dhanapalan and P C Chacko and UDF convener Benny Behanan are now the frontrunners for the LS seats. Adoor Prakash MLA and former legislator Joseph Vazhakkan are also contenders. “With the poll surveys predicting the UDF would win 15-16 seats, many senior leaders are knocking at the group managers’ doorsteps showing their keenness to contest,” said another leader.
Rahul Gandhi to visit Kerala on March 14
Congress president Rahul Gandhi will attend a host of programmes in the state on March 14, including addressing a huge public rally in Kozhikode, in the run up to the Lok Sabha election. KPCC president Mullapally Ramachandran told reporters here that Rahul will arrive in the state from neighbouring Tamil Nadu on March 13. The next day, he will attend a fishermen’s ‘Parliament’ in Thrissur and proceed to Wayanad to visit the house of slain CRPF jawan V Vasanthakumar.
The Congress president will also visit Periya in Kasargod and meet the families of two Youth Congress workers who were hacked to death last month. Rahul will then reach Kozhikode and address a huge public rally at the beach, said Mullapally. The KPCC president was briefing reporters on the sidelines of a Malabar leadership meet held at the Kozhikode District Congress Committee.
Third round talks remain inconclusive Kochi
The third round of UDF’s talks with Kerala Congress(M) on seat sharing remained inconclusive on Tuesday with KC leaders insisting on their demand for two seats. Congress leaders were adamant that they were ready to allocate only one seat. In the meeting held at Ernakulam Guest House, Congress was represented by Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala and UDF convener Benny Behanan, while K M Mani and P J Joseph attended for the Kerala Congress.