March 29, 2016 5:17:02 pm
The entire Kerala leadership of the Congress, accompanied by a host of assembly election ticket hopefuls, has descended on Delhi in an unusual exercise to thrash out differences on candidates for the forthcoming assembly elections.
Amid hectic deliberations, one thing is becoming clear: the well-defined factions led by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala have joined hands once again against state Congress chief V M Sudheeran.
Traditionally, tickets in Kerala are distributed along factional lines. This time, however, Sudheeran has forced a change in the group equations and a debate on the good old “sitting getting formula”. The draft panel of candidates which the state unit handed over to the high command has created a piquant situation: there are multiple names of probables in all the seats, especially in sitting seats, barring 10 which included both Chandy and Chennithala.
According to sources, Sudheeran cleverly included names of local heavyweights belonging to the same faction as probables in some of the seats of sitting MLAs, surprising Chandy and Chennithala.
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Sudheeran is said to be insistent that some of those who have contested and won multiple times should step aside because of local anti-incumbency. The youth and women’s wings are also demanding more representation, thereby further complicating the deliberations.
Sudheeran’s demand has introduced an element of suspense over the candidature of many stalwarts including ministers like K Babu, Adoor Prakash and K C Joseph. In an unusual exercise, the screening committee which shortlists the candidates for the approval of the central election committed headed by Sonia Gandhi has been expanded to include four leaders from Kerala.
Besides, the Mallikarjun Kharge screening committee had called MPs from the state to hear their views on Monday. Sources said most of the MPs have told the panel that winnability should be the criteria for the selection of candidates, distancing themselves from Sudheeran’s view.
After two days of discussions, sources said there has been an understanding that most of the sitting MLAs will be renominated but there is a cloud of uncertainty still hovering over some ministers like Babu and Prakash who face allegations of corruption.
The central election committee will meet on April 1 and the leaders from Kerala hope to arrive at some clarity before the meeting.
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