It has become almost certain that AICC vice-president Rahul Gandhi will have the final say in the nomination of the new president for the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC). Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala, who held discussions with AICC president Sonia Gandhi and general secretary Mukul Wasnik in the morning in New Delhi, will also hold talks with Mr. Gandhi before a formal announcement of the new nominee is made, probably within a week.

Leaders meet Sonia

Mr. Chandy and Mr. Chennithala met Mrs. Gandhi to urge her to take an early decision on the new KPCC president. The names of prospective candidates were discussed at the two rounds of meeting the two leaders had in Delhi, with Speaker G. Karthikeyan turning out to be the main contender for the post.

However, Congress leaders say that the final decision would depend on Mr. Gandhi, who has by now turned out to be a major decision maker in Congress politics.

There is also a general speculation doing its rounds in the capital that there is likely to be a drastic shuffle of candidates to be fielded for the Lok Sabha in the State. Taking cue from the current political discussions in Delhi, in the aftermath of the miserable defeat of the Congress in the elections to the four State Assemblies, senior leaders from the State expect some swift and decisive moves in the selection of the new president.

The views of Defence Minister A.K. Antony will also be crucial, since it would be an important input for Mr. Gandhi, sources said. Mr. Chennithala, who addressed media persons in Delhi, said the high command would take a decision before January 17.

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