Special Correspondent

Senior DIC(K) leaders oppose move for merger with NCP

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The merger of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Democratic Indira Congress (Karunakaran) (DIC(K) will be confirmed after the one-to-one meeting between NCP chief Sharad Pawar and K. Karunakaran in Kozhikode on Tuesday.

The DIC(K) executive, which met here on Monday, entrusted Mr. Karunakaran and its president K Muraleedharan to take an appropriate decision on the merger that the party termed as a union of those who shared the Congress tradition and culture. But the decision could be taken only after the party leaders had to face stiff opposition from seniors such as former Minister P Sankaran, former MLA N.D. Appachan and party general secretaries N. Venugopal and Suleiman Rawther.

Addressing a press conference, Mr. Muraleedharan said the party general body would take a final decision after the Karunakaran-Pawar meeting. All parliamentary board members had been asked to assemble in Kozhikode, the venue for the big meet. Mr. Muraleedharan maintained that by joining hands, Mr. Karunakaran and Mr. Pawar would strengthen the Congress traditions. Mr. Muraleedharan did not conceal the differences expressed by some of the leaders, but asserted that all of them would stand by the party once the decision was made.

He said the DIC(K) had always maintained that it should secure an all-India role. The party could not set aside when such a proposal was put forward. In reply to a question, Mr. Muraleedharan said he had not mentioned anything in public about a merger in any of his statement till the matter was discussed on Monday. "We do not want to repeat the mistake of allying with the UDF," he said.

Even though Mr. Muraleedharan insisted that the DIC(K) did not have any preconditions, the Karunakaran-Pawar meeting would discuss in the detail the modalities of the merger, including accommodation of various leaders. Mr. Rawther reportedly submitted a dissent note on the resolution seeking to entrust the two leaders the powers to take appropriate decisions on the merger. Party general secretary K.P. Kunhikannan moved the resolution. As a tactic, the party leadership allowed every executive to have his or her say.

Congress response

The Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) on Monday announced an open-door policy for DIC(K) workers to rejoin the Congress.

At a press conference here, KPCC president Ramesh Chennithala criticised the merger move, stating that it would be difficult for those upholding Congress traditions to accept it. "The KPCC's assessment is that workers with Congress culture will not accept the merger," he said.