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Congress-JD(S) faction talks on July 26

Girish Menon

UDF partners to hold discussion on the faction’s entry after the preliminary talks

Congress has laid the road map for the entry

The move may shore up UDF’s prospects

Thiruvananthapuram: The Janata Dal (Secular) faction led by M.P. Veerendrakumar and the Congress will hold the first official-level talks on the former’s entry into the United Democratic Front (UDF) in Kochi on July 26.

The Congress leadership has made it clear that the talks would be a preliminary one that would set the ball rolling for the Dal faction’s shift to the UDF plank. Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president Ramesh Chennithala told The Hindu that Leader of the Opposition Oommen Chandy, UDF convener P.P. Thankachan and himself would participate in the talks. He said the UDF partners would hold a discussion on the faction’s entry after the preliminary talks.

The content and future developments would depend on these talks during which the Dal faction leadership was expected to open its mind on its expectations.

The meeting in Kochi itself is symbolic, suggesting that the Janata Dal’s entry is as far away as arriving in the capital city and the process will be a rather long one.

Both Mr. Chennithala and Mr. Thankachan continued to hold out the flag of friendship for the Dal faction, repeatedly acknowledging its support in the Lok Sabha elections which was crucial for the Congress at the national level.

Involving partners

According to sources, the Congress leadership has already laid the road map for bringing in the Janata Dal on board. Clearly, the Congress does not want to take the entire responsibility for this and would want the UDF partners also to be part of the decision-making process, especially when it comes to the question of allocating seats to contest.

It is also significant that the Congress is looking at the Dal faction to shore up the prospects of the UDF in the Malabar region, where the real electoral battle is against the CPI(M). The recent elections saw the resurgence of the Indian Union Muslim League and the party leadership wants to consolidate this trend to face the CPI (M) in the Malabar turf.

The entry could be smooth for the Dal faction if it does not pitch its ambitions high at this juncture, a senior Congress leader said.

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