THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Congress high command may spring a surprise by fielding former Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman P J Kurien in Pathanamthitta Lok Sabha constituency.
Resentment was brewing in Pathanamthitta District Congress Committee (DCC) with the party office-bearers coming out against sitting MP Anto Antony. DCC office-bearers unanimously clamoured for a person who is from Pathanamthitta, in an oblique reference that Anto is from the neighbouring Kottayam district.
On rumours his name was not included in the list forwarded by Pathanamthitta DCC, Anto told Express: “This is for the KPCC to decide and my name is not excluded from any list. As far as sitting MPs are concerned, the state PCC and the high command will decide.” Asked whether there was strong objection from the DCC for his candidature, he said: “Only one or two persons were levelling some healthy criticisms and there is nothing like mass opposition to my candidature. I have always been a loyal party worker and am accessible to all the people of my constituency.”
No sitting MPs
KPCC president Mullappally Ramachandran has told journalists the party has decided against fielding all the sitting MPs. Kurien, however, in the recent DCC meet in Pathanamthitta, said he should not be considered as a candidate. Interestingly, in the recent Maramon Convention, Mar Thoma Church supremo Joseph Mar Thoma Metropolitan said the community has very little representation in electoral positions. It may be noted Mar Thoma Church has the maximum followers in the constituency, followed by the Orthodox and then the Catholics. Anto is a Catholic, whereas Kurien is a Marthomite hailing from Vennikulam in Pathanamthitta.
Kurien has an excellent rapport with all the denominations of the Christian community and has been the AICC’s troubleshooter for long, settling disputes between the Church and party. His close relationship with G Sukumaran Nair and Vellappally Natesan, general secretary of NSS and SNDP Yogam, respectively, will also work to his advantage.
Kurien told Express: “I’m not a candidate and I don’t want to contest. I don’t know whether there is any proposal to replace Anto. But if the high command exerts pressure, I will have to obey.”KPCC president Mullappally Ramachandran said: “These are early days and let the party election committee meet on Monday. I have got proper feedback from the constituency and please wait for a couple of days for our candidate.”Several names, including DCC president Babu George and his predecessor Mohanraj, have also cropped up for the constituency.