KPCC chief decides to keep away from discussions

Following the rift in the State unit of the Congress, the United Democratic Front (UDF) leadership on Friday put off the bilateral talks scheduled to be held next week with some of the coalition partners to sort out certain pending issues.

Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president Ramesh Chennithala’s decision to stay away from the bilateral talks with the Communist Marxist Party, a minor partner, to settle certain disputes, including the status of the Pariyaram Medical College, has led to the postponement. Mr. Chennithala, who feels let down by the Chief Minister’s camp over the question of his induction into the UDF Cabinet, has dropped broad hints that it is Mr. Chandy’s responsibility to tackle coalition partners. The two leaders were scheduled to hold discussions with Janadhipathya Samrakshana Samithy leaders on Tuesday to sort out some of the issues the latter had highlighted.

The two parties do not have any legislators and any adverse decisions that they may take will have no impact on the survival of the Oommen Chandy government. Yet, the Congress leadership is wary of the impact the departure of a leader like K.R. Gouri would have on the image of the coalition, struggling as it is to handle minority-majority issues.

Ahmed Patel

In the meantime, Ahmed Patel, political secretary to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, has reportedly called up both Mr. Chennithala and Mr. Chandy to get an understanding of the current situation in the State unit of the party. Sources say that the two leaders have briefed him about their respective position. Congress sources view this as an indication that the party high command will intervene to settle the problems between Mr. Chennithala and Mr. Chandy.

But Congress Working Committee member and Union Defence Minister A.K. Antony has sought to convey a different message while expressing optimism that Mr. Chandy and Mr. Chennithala are capable of sorting out their differences. He has been consistent in his position that the problems in the Congress party in Kerala should be settled in the State itself.