TAMIL NADU

High command expels rebel candidate

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM APRIL. 9. The row over the two Rajya Sabha seats in the Congress in the State came to a head following the high command's rather determined decision to order the suspension and expulsion of the rebel candidate, Kodoth Govindan Nair, the veteran leader, K. Karunakaran's nominee, from the party for six years.

The Congress high command's mood was reflected in its decision as it did not bother to wait till April 13, the possible deadline to work out a compromise while ordering the KPCC president, K. Muraleedharan, to suspend Mr. Nair from the party. Besides, it also directed Mr. Muraleedharan to write to all MLAs in his capacity as KPCC president to vote for the official candidates, Vayalar Ravi and Thennala Balakrishna Pillai.

Mr. Karunakaran promptly reacted to the high command's hard decision by refusing to pull out his candidate from the fray. "The decision is not surprising. But the suspension will not break the morale of my supporters and Mr. Nair would win admirably,'' he told The Hindu.

The only saving grace was the fact that the KPCC president was allowed to withdraw his so-called resignation letter, submitted a week ago when the controversy erupted. But this was done only after it was made clear to him that he had to perform his responsibilities, namely suspending Mr. Nair from the party and writing the official letter to party MLAs directing them to back the official candidates.

The action against Mr. Nair appears to have led to a consolidation in the Karunakaran camp, but it remains to be seen whether it would hold on the voting day, which is on April 14.

Now that a contest has become imminent, the anti-Karunakaran forces are working overtime to ensure that Karunakaran supporters are weaned away.