KPCC nominates two for RS poll

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM MARCH 30. The Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) election committee has recommended the names of the AICC general secretary, Vayalar Ravi, and the former MP, P.C. Chacko, as the party's nominees for the two seats the Congress would be contesting in the elections to the Upper House of Parliament.

The election committee has not submitted any names other than those of these two leaders, it is reliably learnt. The committee, which met here today, authorised the Chief Minister, A.K. Antony, and the KPCC president, K. Muraleedharan, to discuss the nominations with the party high command, which would formally announce the candidates by April 2. The two leaders would brief the party high command, Mr. Muraleedharan told mediapersons after the meeting.

Mr. Muraleedharan is leaving for Delhi on Monday, while Mr. Antony, who cannot leave the capital city because it being the close of the financial year, would inform the high command of his decision separately. ``But there would be consensus in our views,'' the KPCC president said.

The turn of events was evident by the fact that the senior leader, K. Karunakaran, did not attend the meeting. The committee's decision to authorise Mr. Antony and Mr. Muraleedharan also appears to be unusual, as Mr. Antony, who is also a member of the Congress Working Committee, usually disassociates himself from such positions. But the two have been authorised in their respective capacities as Congress Legislature Party leader and KPCC president. Whatever decision the high command takes, there is no denying the fact that Mr. Antony's views would be given higher priority. The others who attended the meeting included Mr. Antony, Aryadan Mohammed, Thiruvanchur Radhakrishnan, P.P. George and Mr. Chacko. The All India Congress Committee secretary, Ramesh Chennithala, Mr. Ravi and the United Democratic Front (UDF) convener, Oommen Chandy, did not attend the meeting as they had other preoccupation.

Mr. Muraleedharan and Mr. Chandy had met the Kerala Congress(M) leader, K.M. Mani, to convey the Congress party's position regarding contesting the two seats. It was on the basis of this discussion with Mr. Mani that the KPCC election committee took up the question of nominating the party candidates. It had been generally agreed that the two seats would be shared between the Antony and Karunakaran factions. Since the Congress high command is inclined to give Mr. Ravi a break in his capacity as AICC general secretary, the Chief Minister is unlikely to oppose his nomination. Mr. Karunakaran, who insisted that his faction should get one of the seats, favoured P.P. Thankachan or Koladi Govindan Nair, an old supporter. The anti-Karunakaran groups have apparently adopted the strategy of supporting Mr. Muraleedharan's nominee, Mr. Chacko.

The element of uncertainty in announcing the names formally is due to Mr. Karunakaran's opposition to Mr. Chacko's nomination. The strategy is to let Mr. Karunakaran and Mr. Muraleedharan sort out the issue relating to the nominee from the Karunakaran faction.

Some of the election committee members do not rule out last minute changes, since several factors would have to be considered before announcing the names.

The Chief Minister would have to consider the wishes of the high command, the need to retain the current equations while expressing his opinion before the high command.

Moreover, despite his not so smooth relations with the high command, Mr. Karunakaran cannot be totally sidelined in the scheme of things. Mr. Muraleedharan is known to be not quite well disposed towards Mr. Thankachan, and this position explains his preference for Mr. Chacko and his statement that noted parliamentarians would be considered. Mr. Karunakaran currently has the option of putting his foot down and securing a nomination for his own man or succumb to his weakness, which happens to be his son and his stature as party president.

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