The Congress will resume its seat-sharing talks from Saturday in an attempt to bridle the runaway ambitions of some of its partners in the United Democratic Front (UDF).
The UDF election convention in Malappuram and Kozhikode on March 1 and 2 has given an opportunity for the coalition leaders to resume their seat-sharing talks. The Congress talks with the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) will be held on Saturday in Malappuram, followed by talks with the Socialist Janata (Democratic) [SJ(D)] the same night in Kozhikode. The talks with Kerala Congress (M) will be on March 4.
The talks with the SJ(D) have been on even keel and the exercise with the Kerala Congress (M) has been acrimonious. The Kerala Congress (M)’s demand for the Idukki seat should have put the Congress on the defensive, but the factional tussles within that party has given an edge to the Congress.
Several formulas are being considered to settle issues with the SJ(D), including one related to giving the SJ(D) a Rajya Sabha seat as and when the vacancy comes up in exchange of the Lok Sabha seat for the Congress to enable it to meet the numbers game expected in Delhi in the post-election period. The SJ(D) has demanded either the Vadakkara or the Wayanad seat, though its heart is in Vadakara, where, the party leadership feels, it can make a dent on the CPI(M)-led LDF’s prospects. Kerala Congress (M) leader K.M. Mani has to contend with the pressure put by the leaders of the erstwhile Kerala Congress (Joseph) for the Idukki seat. The Congress will try to leverage the differences in the Kerala Congress (M), but it will find the confusion over K. Kasturirangan report and the unpopularity of sitting MP P.T. Thomas as grey areas.