Not all settled in Congress; four seats still sticking points

Parties to the decision: Ramesh Chennithala,  Mullappally Ramachandran and Oommen Chandyu (file photo)

New Delhi:  Not all disputes regarding  seat allocation seem to be over within Congress in Kerala, as some Lok Sabha seats still seem to be vexing leadership's heads.  The stance of Oommen Chandy, also party's in-charge for  Andhra Pradesh,    will be crucial in finding a solution,  for which he has been summoned to Delhi.

The thorn in the flesh are constituencies of Wayanad, Vadakara, Alappuzha and Attingal, where announcement of candidates has been delayed.   And Wayanad holds the key to solutions for other seats.  For Wayanad Oommen Chandy is pitching for T Siddique whereas Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala is in the fray for one among Shanimol Usman, PM Niyas and KP Abdul Majeed.

The tussle has also taken on a complexion of the lingering Congress faction fight between A and I Groups.  I-group would fain part with the seat where the last incumbent was from I-group (late MI Shanavas being the last MP there, and the seat lying vacant since) and gift it to  A-group.    The name of VV Prakash as a compromise candidate,  has also been surfacing of late.

Pending the decision,  the return from Delhi of both KPCC president Mullappally Ramachandran and Ramesh Chennithala has been put off.

The question of Vadakara has a different dimension.  The seat was assigned to Vidya Balakrishnan as decided by the election council,  but now there is a rethinking in the light of the fact that CPM's P Jayarajan is contesting there,  and a stronger candidate is required to counter him.   T.  Siddique whose name is tipped for that, is not prepared to contest from Vadakara.  Also,  in view of Rahul Gandhi's take that women's representation in the list was not adequate,  the name of Bindu Krishna,  leader of Mahila Congress, was suggested and she was called to Delhi.  However,  she declined to contest.

In Alappuzha,  Shanimol Usman and AA Shukkoor are under consideration.  If Adoor Prakash is brought to Alappuzha that will weaken the propsects in Attingal.  The bottomline is that in two seats where sitting MP's decided not to contest,  Vadakara and Alappuzha,  Congress is in search of meritorious candidates to face CPM.

Meanwhile,  the disgruntled MP and former minister KV Thomas,  who was excluded from the candidates' list and had gone public with his disapproval,  has been tamed with offers of prime party positions.   As a culmination of the intervening uncertainty,  and amidst reports that BJP was throwing an irresistible bait for him,  he set at rest all doubts saying that he was a Congressman,  Hibi Eden would win from Ernakulam and he would be there to work for him.  

Although  the central and state party leadership came out with conciliatory gestures,  both were insistent in denying seat to Thomas,  reportedly on indications from the party's survey and young MLAs from the district that the party would be in for defeat if Thomas contested.    More pressure to this effect came with P Rajeev, CPM's stalwart,  and a parliamentarian of repute,  was fielded by CPM.  

As a way of accommodating the veteran leader,  and longtime parliamentarian,  Thomas may be offered a respsectable AICC position or convenorship of UDF.  Further,  if Hibi Eden wins for parliament,  his assembly seat will fall vacant that can be offered to KV Thomas too.   And if dream comes true,   in the event of a UDF return to power in 2021,  that can act as spring board for a return to state cabinet too.

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