Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president Ramesh Chennithala has said that the candidate to be fielded by the party in the Neyyattinkara Assembly constituency will be decided by the party as and when the byelection is notified.
Speaking to reporters here on Tuesday, Mr. Chennithala said in response to a question that since the constituency had been allocated to the Congress to contest in the previous Assembly elections, the party would decide the candidate to be fielded in the bypoll necessitated by the resignation of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) MLA R. Selvaraj in protest against the CPI(M) leadership in the State.
Asked about Mr. Selvaraj’s reported decision to be in the fray at Neyyattinkara, Mr. Chennithala said that the party would decide its candidate after holding discussions. He reiterated his view that it was not improper for a party to field as its candidate a leader who left the rival party as most political parties including the CPI(M) had done that. He also said that the UDF would win the Neyyattinkara seat as an when the bypoll was held.
To another question, Mr. Chennithala said that the CPI(M) State secretary’s recent attempts to mollify church leaders after publicly criticising them were a sign of repentance. Asked about the plan to re-constitute the KPCC and the district Congress committees, he said that the party was considering the re-constitution before the bypoll in Neyyattinkara.
There was no doubt about the induction of the newly elected MLA Anup Jacob into the United Democratic Front Ministry, he said adding that it was for the Chief Minister to decide the timing of his entry in the Cabinet.
To another query, Mr. Chennithala said that the Congress had not yet discussed the demand of the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) for a fifth berth in the Ministry. The party would surely discuss the demand made by the IUML, he said adding that all such issues would be discussed at the UDF meeting scheduled on March 28.
He also said that the agitation of the newspaper agents was a major threat to the freedom of the press and the right to know. Terming newspapers as a part and parcel of the daily life of every Malayali, he said that the agitation should be called off so that the disrupted supply of the newspapers should be resumed. To a question, he said that the agitating newspaper agents had not raised their issues to the Congress and therefore party leaders were not aware of their grievances and demands.