KERALA

Cong. panel may take a soft approach

NEW DELHI SEPT. 26. Though its brief is to look into complaints of party workers campaigning against the official candidate in the Ernakulam by-poll, the Disciplinary Action Committee (DAC) set up by the Congress on Thursday is unlikely to examine the election in isolation, and could well adopt a conciliatory approach if the situation so warrants.

Indicating such a possibility, the DAC chairman, L.P. Shahi, said as a senior Congressman, his prime responsibility was to settle the issue.

But, refusing to commit himself to such an approach, he said it was an option that would be considered by the three-member committee, which was likely to take at least a fortnight to finalise its report and make recommendations.

With Dusara round the corner, the committee in all likelihood would meet for the first time only after October 5 as Mr. Shahi himself is leaving for Bihar and another member, Janardhan Poojary, is in Karnataka and is not expected to return before the end of the festivities.

This apart, the two observers - Veerappa Moily and G. K. Vasan - are yet to submit their report.

Given the fact that the current impasse between the Chief Minister, A.K. Antony, and the senior Congress leader, K. Karunakaran, is yet another manifestation of a prolonged war of wits and words between the two factions, Mr. Shahi said the committee would have to look beyond the report.

"The Ernakulam by-election cannot be seen in isolation; we will have to examine the complaints in a larger perspective," the octogenarian Congressman said while speaking to presspersons.

As to whether the committee would visit Kerala, he did not rule it out but said this was a decision that would be taken after the members discussed the issue threadbare.

Refusing to give a straight reply to whether veteran Congressmen were being sidelined by the party's Central leadership, Mr. Shahi said while no political organisation could be run with old people, the younger generation should learn to respect the experience of their seniors, who, in turn should accept that the young brought in new energy to any organisation.

The latest crisis within the Kerala unit of the Congress broke out over the decision of the party high command to field an "Antony candidate" for the by-poll from a constituency that has been the "preserve" of the Karunakaran faction.

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