Party to field N.K. Premachandran; Congress may offer support

Stung by the denial of the Kollam Lok Sabha seat, the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP), the third important constituent of the Opposition Left Democratic Front (LDF), has decided to quit the alliance and field former Minister N.K. Premachandran as its candidate in the constituency.

Announcing the decision to leave the LDF, of which it was one of the founding members way back in 1979-’80, the RSP leadership accused the CPI(M) of having tried consistently to whittle away its seats and influence.

“We were left with no option but to leave the alliance when the CPI(M) refused to heed our request, given in writing six months ago, for the Kollam seat,” party State secretary A.A. Azeez and Mr. Premachandran told a news conference after day-long meetings of the party State secretariat and State committee here on Saturday.

They made it clear that there was no question of returning to the LDF even if the CPI(M) offered the Kollam seat and that they would take support from anyone who was ready to back them. The CPI(M), they alleged, first took away the Kollam Lok Sabha seat and then three of the nine Assembly seats the party used to contest.

Later, the CPI(M) took away two more Assembly seats, including Kollam, which the party considered its heart, and Kuttippuram. The normal practice of the alliance was to hold discussions about seat sharing. However, this time round, there was no such discussion.

Although the party took up the matter with the CPI(M) leadership before Friday’s LDF State committee, its request was firmly turned down. All that the party got to hear later was about selection of its own candidate by the CPI(M) for Kollam.

Although there were reports that the CPI(M) leadership had offered Kottayam to the party, there was no such offer. Nor was there any effort on the part of the CPI(M) for a bilateral discussion on the issue. “The issue is not the denial of the seat but the arbitrary behaviour (of the CPI-M),” Mr. Premachandran said.

The Congress leadership and the rival RSP(B) leader and Labour Minister Shibu Baby John were quick to respond to the developments in the RSP.

While Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, KPCC president V.M. Sudheeran, and Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala, after hurried confabulations and reportedly after telephonic contact with Mr. Azeez and Mr. Premachandran, offered to hold talks with the RSP leadership, possibly on Sunday itself, Mr. Baby John rushed to the RSP State committee office for parleys with his former comrades.

The RSP(B) secretariat is meeting on Sunday. Mr. Baby John’s discussions with the RSP leaders appeared to throw open the possibility of the two parties merging.

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