The Congress high command appears to be putting pressure on the State leadership to go in for early candidate selection for the Lok Sabha elections.

However, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president Ramesh Chennithala, at separate meetings with AICC general secretaries Madhusoodan Mistry and C.P. Joshi, expressed their reservations about such an exercise.

The Chief Minister and the KPCC president have taken the position that it will be wrong for the Congress to go ahead and announce its candidates without holding parleys with the ruling alliance partners.

The two leaders are in Delhi for what has been termed as first round of discussions for candidate selection.

Mr. Chennithala, who met the two leaders in the morning, said that formal discussions with the UDF partners will have to be held prior to the selection of Congress candidates.

The State leaders fully subscribed to the AICC's stand regarding the early announcement of the list, but the UDF has an established process for this.

Subsequently, the Congress election committee will have to be convened to decide on the selection criteria, was the stand adopted by the two leaders. Mr. Chandy also met the two AICC general secretaries later in the evening and gave his views on the issue. Later, Mr. Chennithala said that another round of discussion would be held in Kerala. This would be followed by consultations with the high command.

Speaking to media persons in Delhi, Mr. Chennithala denied newspaper reports that the Congress party had decided to contest in 17 seats. He said the State leadership would make maximum efforts to announce the list of candidates early.

Mr. Chandy met Union Minister Veerappa Moily, who is in charge of Environment and Forest portfolio following the resignation of Jayanthi Natarajan, and urged him to consider relaxations under the Kasturirangan report.

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