Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president Ramesh Chennithala will leave for New Delhi on Wednesday to discuss with their party high command the Indian Union Muslim League's demand for a fifth Minister in the United Democratic Front (UDF) Ministry in the State.
The decision was taken after discussions at the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee's leadership and political affairs committee meetings here on Tuesday. Addressing a press conference after the meetings, Mr. Chennithala said the pros and cons of conceding the fifth berth to the IUML were discussed in detail.
The KPCC decided to start preparations for the Neyyattinkara by-election, with a formal decision on the candidate to be taken as soon as the election is formally notified.
He said several opinions were expressed with regard to the IUML's demand and the general feeling of the meeting would be conveyed to the high command. There was nothing wrong in the IUML staking claim to a fifth berth. The party made its formal demand for an additional berth in a recent UDF meeting, following which the KPCC discussed the matter with all the seriousness required, considering the fact that the IUML was an important ally. The basic principle that every one agreed to was that the UDF should move forward united, while the Congress should also become strong, he said.
In reply to a question, Mr. Chennithala said there would be more clarity on the issue after the discussion with the party high command. He would rather avoid making any further statements that would complicate matters.
With regard to the Neyyattinkara seat, he said the first priority of the UDF was to win it. Asked whether the Congress would field its own candidate, the KPCC president said Tuesday's meetings were not the appropriate forums for selecting the candidate. The political situation in the constituency was conducive for a thumping victory. “There would be no problem with regard to the selection of the candidate,” he said in reply to repeated questions on whether the party would give the ticket to R. Selvaraj who quit the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the seat.