Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: The former Minister P. Sankaran and four other leaders who recently left the Democratic Indira Congress (Karunakaran) are in the capital to finalise the formalities for their ``unconditional return'' to the Congress.

And, signalling the Congress' willingness to take them back, party president Sonia Gandhi has agreed to meet them on Tuesday.

Mr. Sankaran, V. Balaram, M. A. Chandrasekharan, N. D. Appachan and D. Sugathan, MLAs during their stint with the Congress, were diehard supporters of Mr. Karunakaran till he decided to merge the DIC(K) with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). In the capital since Sunday, they held discussions with Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president Ramesh Chennithala and the former Chief Minister A. K. Antony.

They were slated to meet Ms. Gandhi's political secretary Ahmed Patel later in the evening.

Mr. Chennithala met Ms. Gandhi on Monday to discuss their return to the Congress.

Briefing presspersons later, Mr. Chennithala said they were willing to return without any condition. They followed Mr. Karunakaran out of the Congress in May 2005 to uphold the values of Indira Gandhi and not to give up their Congress identity for the NCP.

In an interaction with the media, Mr. Sankaran said Mr. Karunakaran had few supporters left, as a sizeable number of them wanted to return to the Congress.

This was borne out by reports gathered by the Left parties, which were opposed to the DIC(K)-NCP merger, he said.

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