Finalising their candidate list, Congress announced the last six candidates for the upcoming Assembly elections in Kerala. T Siddique (Kalpetta), VV Prakash (Nilambur), Firoz Kunnumparambil (Thavanoor), Riyaz Mukkoli (Pattambi), PC Vishnunadh (Kundara), and Veena Nair (Vattiyoorkavu). With the last six candidates announced, Congress is hoping to settle the various problems arising from within the party. However, it is easier said than done.
In Kalpetta, local Congress members have reportedly pasted posters against Siddique, stating that Wayanad doesn’t need someone from outside to represent them. The posters, in the name of Save Congress Forum, also said that the leadership should respect the wishes of the district Congress committee to select someone from the local leaders. Meanwhile, in Irikkur, the protest against UDF candidate Sajeev Joseph is not dying down. Congress ‘A’ group is adamant about replacing Sajeev with Sony Sebastian, and since their demands are not being met, they are currently discussing fielding a rebel candidate.
UDF convenor MM Hasan and senior leader KC Joseph will meet Oommen Chandy and Ramesh Chennithala today to explain the seriousness of the problem. According to sources, they plan to give the post of Kannur DCC president to the ‘A’ group, and K Sudhakaran can appoint someone in another district. At the same time, the Sajeev Joseph faction’s move is to go ahead with the campaign by submitting nomination papers tomorrow without listening to the protests. Sajeev said that the crisis over the Irikkur seat could be resolved amicably adding that Sudhakaran has no objection to him and everyone will work together. However, Sony Sebastian is adamant that there will be no compromise and rejected the plan at play here.
The problems started when High Command chose Sajeev Joseph as Irikkur candidate under the pressure of KC Venugopal. Around fifty ‘A’ Group leaders in the district, including KPCC general secretary Soni Sebastian, resigned when their expectation of the seat failed. With the loss of Irikkur, there will be no ‘A’ group MLAs in the district. Apart from Irikkur, the A group is planning to call meetings in Kannur and Peravoor constituencies and stay away from the election campaign. Meanwhile, Sudhakaran is angry that the groups are fighting in the district following the intervention of KC Venugopal.
Moreover, the Youth Congress has stated that it will announce a rebel candidate in Elathur tomorrow while the Congress constituency committee that met today decided to field KPCC executive committee member UV Dinesh Mani. NCK candidate Zulfikar Mayuri, who was scheduled to file his nomination papers at 2.30 pm today, said he would not do it. Congress workers in the constituency have warned of a massive resignation if they decide to field Zulfikar. Dharmadom, where Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan will be contesting from, is also not free of Congress’ internal struggles.
The mother of the Walayar girls, who were found dead under mysterious circumstances, had said that she would be contesting against Pinarayi Vijayan. Reportedly, the UDF had claimed support for the mother, but certain Congress leaders declared that they would field a rebel candidate.
The announcement was made by DCC General Secretary C Raghunath, who was being considered in Dharmadom. He said he would file the petition tomorrow and that the Congress workers were with him.
The INTUC, which has been at loggerheads over its candidacy, has said it will not back down. The trade union’s state president R Chandrasekharan said that he had discussed the issue with Ramesh Chennithala and KC Venugopal. He said that the leaders had requested him to co-operate in the elections and agreed to discuss the demands of the INTUC on March 20.