Karunakaran group to seek House session

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM OCT. 28. The veteran Congress leader, K. Karunakaran, has revealed another strategy in his search for a leadership change, with 22 of his MLAs deciding to meet the Governor, Sikhander Bakht, with the demand for convening the Assembly session immediately.

The MLAs, who attended a factional meeting at Mr. Karunakaran's residence, put their signature to the letter demanding the convening of such a session and this would be handed over to the Governor when the meeting materialises. Mr. Karunakaran has been authorised to decide on the best course of action in relation to its timing. (Another MLA, A. P. Anilkumar, could not attend the meeting as he is abroad.)

The decision appears to be a message to the AICC and the party president, Sonia Gandhi, and an attempt to accelerate the process for a leadership change, given the context of the high command's decision to go slow in tackling the problems in the Congress till the elections in the four North Indian states are over. The faction has been emboldened by the high command's hesitation to take any kind of action in relation to indiscipline in pushing its demand for a leadership change.

Mr. Karunakaran, it seems, does not want to lose the momentum that he had gained following the Ernakulam by-election and the major setback it gave to the Chief Minister, A. K. Antony.

The faction leaders claim that they have clear indications about the restlessness among the leaders of UDF constituents, who are reconciled to the clear division in the Congress. The decision to meet the Governor cannot be delinked from the moves of the LDF, which had given notice for the convening of the Assembly session for the removal of the Speaker, Vakkom Purushothaman.

The notice submitted to the Legislature Secretary was summarily rejected and the LDF leaders are due to meet the Chief Minister on October 30 with the demand for the convening of the Assembly.

The MLAs who attended today's meeting were unanimous in their views that the faction should stick to its demand for a change in the leadership.

The Karunakaran faction stayed away from the Thiruvalla election convention, though Mr. K. Muraleedharan attended it in his capacity as the KPCC president. "We have not decided whether we should participate in the electioneering in the constituency,'' P. P. George, MLA, told newspersons after the factional meeting.

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