Special Correspondent

Meet to discuss possibility of tie-up with Karunakaran's outfit

NEW DELHI: The Congress leadership of Kerala will meet on Tuesday to discuss the possibility of a tie-up with the Democratic Indira Congress (Karunakaran).

First official meet

Though the issue has preoccupied political circles within the State ever since the Left Democratic Front (LDF) decided in mid-February not to have any truck with the DIC(K), this will be the first official meeting of the Congress to discuss the `Karunakaran issue.' The meeting was disclosed by Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president Ramesh Chennithala soon after his meeting with party president Sonia Gandhi in Delhi on Monday. Immediately after his meeting, he left for Bangalore for discussions with Congress Working Committee member in-charge of Kerala Veerappa Moily.

The two are due to head for Thiruvananthapuram for a meeting with Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, Union Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi and United Democratic Front convener P. P. Thankachan on Tuesday. Mr. Chandy, Mr. Ravi and Mr. Chennithala are among the four leaders authorised at the recent Pradesh Congress Committee plenary to decide on a tie-up with the DIC(K), the fourth being the former Chief Minister, A. K. Antony. Mr. Antony, who has always been of the view that the breakaway Karaunakaran faction should come back to the Congress, is in Delhi and will be consulted over the telephone.

During his meeting with Ms. Gandhi, Mr. Chennithala apprised her about the discussions between the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) and the DIC(K).

IUML as mediator

The IUML has donned the mantle of a mediator between the Congress and the DIC(K). The DIC(K) leadership has demanded 20 seats whereas the Congress is understood to be prepared to surrender only 15; that, too, provided the fledgling party contests under its `hand' symbol. Another issue that Tuesday's meeting is likely to address pertains to whether a Congress leader should approach the DIC(K) father-son leadership, K. Karunakaran and K. Muraleedharan. Meanwhile, Mr. Chennithala was upbeat about the party's prospects at the hustings; particularly in view of the in-fighting within the Communist Party of India (Marxist).