KERALA

DIC(K) reiterates decision to contest on party symbol



Special Correspondent

Says it is prepared to consider seat adjustments with the UDF

Issue of merger with the Congress would be considered only after polls, say DIC(K) leadersMeeting on March 20 to debate merits of truck with UDFDIC(K) purchases Priyadarshini Bhavan

Thiruvananthapuram: The Democratic Indira Congress (Karunakaran)'s Parliamentary Board, which met at K. Karunakaran's residence on Thursday, made it very clear that the party would retain its identity and contest the election on its own symbol. The party indicated that it was at best prepared to consider seat adjustments with the UDF.

The Parliamentary Board, headed by Mr. Karunakaran himself, decided to keep in abeyance all discussions on this till its meeting on March 21 soon after the proposed delegates meeting of the party scheduled to be held on March 20 in Ernakulam. DIC(K) sources said the party had already a separate set-up, including offices. Even the issue of merger, now being proposed by the Congress, would be thought of later after the election. A senior leader said the DIC(K) was willing to contest on the `hand' symbol if the other UDF partners were persuaded to do likewise.

The party has sent the clear message about its stand in several other ways. The Ernakulam meeting itself has been designed to ensure that the party does not compromise on its identity. A statement issued by the DIC(K) said the Ernakulam meeting would be attended by its members from booth presidents upwards in the party hierarchy. The meeting, it is widely believed, would also discuss the pros and cons of an all-out alliance with the Congress-led UDF.

To further underline its separate identity, the DIC(K) also announced that it had purchased the property that houses its headquarters, which had been taken on rent. Another DIC(K) statement said the registration of the property in the name of DIC(K) president K Muraleedharan had taken place this morning. The three-storeyed headquarters, Priyadarshini Bhavan, had been purchased at a cost of Rs.1.25 crores, the statement said.

It pointed out that the Congress party had functioned from rented premises till 1986 and had got its own premises after quite a lot of effort. The Indira Bhavan, which housed the Congress headquarters, did not have a modern facility and it was under Mr. Muraleedharan's tenure as KPCC president that the modern building had been constructed. This new building was the contribution of Congress workers. The statement said the property was purchased with the funds mobilised by Mr. Muraleedharan during his 843-km. 45-day Navakerala March. Priyadharshini Bhavan was a standing monument of Mr. Muraleedharan's organisational skills, the statement said.

DIC(K) general secretary K.P. Kunhikannan told The Hindu that the party would stick to its stand.

He said the meeting between Mr. Karunakaran and Veerappa Moily would, however, take place as per Mr. Moily's wish on March 18.

Contrary to expectations, no behind-the-screen discussion was held with the IUML leaders, who had acted as mediators. The DIC(K), according to party sources, was looking forward to the allocation of a safe seat for Mr. Muraleedharan.

This would set the stage for the next round of talks with the UDF leadership, the sources pointed out.