Nominee will be someone acceptable to Chandy, Chennithala

The Congress High Command has launched a “hunt” for a new president for the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC).

Several prospective nominees are currently figuring in debates in public domain.

The selection process, it appears, will not have to go very far since the basic objective of the party leadership is to maintain the status quo at least till the Lok Sabha elections without actually disturbing the factional equations that has already set it.

Even though several names are doing the rounds, it is clear that the next KPCC president will be a person who will be acceptable to Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala, both of whom have consolidated a large section of the party behind them under their respective factions.

Mr. Chennithala’s induction in the Chandy Cabinet itself has been carried out to douse factional animosities ahead of what could be a tough electoral contest to the Lok Sabha. Party sources feel that there is no reason why the high command should not apply the same principle in selecting the KPCC president nominee, who would ensure smooth ties between the party and the government it leads.

The names of V.M. Sudheeran, Mullapally Ramachandran, V.D. Satheesan, and G. Karthikeyan are being bandied about. Some of the senior leaders have frowned at the subtle attempts to give a caste and regional tinge to the entire selection process, some thing which none of the leaders tipped to take over would like to be linked to. Union Minister of State for Home Mullapally Ramachandran has already thrown his hat in the ring by demanding a slot for a nominee from Malabar region.

Given the imperatives of having a full-time KPCC president, the high command is under pressure to announce the nominee without any delay. Congress sources underlined the importance of having a president in place, to lead the party during the elections. Delay in announcement will only lead to acrimony caused by the ever increasing list of claimants.

Mr. Chennithala indicated in Kochi on Sunday that he and the Chief Minister would be in Delhi on January 9 for discussions on the issue, now that he has sought the high command’s permission in writing to be relieved from the post.

The KPCC has convened a leadership meeting ostensibly to give a farewell to Mr. Chennithala, who served as its president for nearly nine years.

The meeting will be attended by former KPCC presidents, office-bearers, DCC presidents, CLP office-bearers.

The UDF is scheduled to hold bilateral discussions with the Kerala Congress (M) and the Indian Union Muslim League, as part of its attempt to resolve residual issues related to sharing of the slots in corporations and boards, prior to the January 16 meet for discussing the seat allocation for the Lok Sabha between partners.