Congress’ candidate list expected today

Deccan Chronicle.

Nation, Current Affairs

Screening committee fails to settle claims of aspirants.

Rahul Gandhi

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: It’s a race to breast the finishing line, but the Congress in Kerala thinks it can catch up with its main rival, the ruling LDF, already off the starting block, through some grandiose announcement.

The mood in the top echelons of the party is sullen, the leaders see Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala’s assurance of candidate list tomorrow as a platitude.

The ways of the Congress have always been like this: protracted negotiations, hectic lobbying and an announcement after rivals have started electioneering.

Many have sought to stem this trend, the latest being senior leader A.K. Antony, who said the Congress list in Kerala would be out by February 20. This despite his own ringside view of the Congress culture.

Latest reports say there are several names being sent up for consideration by the election committee, presided over by AICC president Rahul Gandhi, slated for Saturday. The screening committee on Friday could not settle claims by aspirants and apparently decided to kick the ball into Rahul’s court.

Knotty seats are Idukki and Vadakara, where Mr Chennithala would prefer allies — KC(M) and anti-CPM RMP — to put up candidates so that he can count on their support much later during the next Assembly elections. It’s a quid pro quo that he would expect. But Rahul obviously frowned at this approach, insisting that the party should have its own candidates for all its conventional 16 seats.

It’s learnt Prof K.V. Thomas may have to vacate Ernakulam seat in favour of the young Hibi Eden, MLA. UDF convener Benny Behanan will take on former AMMA president Innocent in Chalakudy. It’s T.N. Pratapan in Thrissur and most likely Mr Adoor Prakash, who had started nursing Attingal, would get the slot.

There is a possibility that Mr T. Siddique will be dispatched to Wayanad, which is generally reckoned to be a Congress pocket borough. Another thinking is fielding Ms Shanimol Usman in Alappuzha, because AICC general secretary K.C. Venugopal, the sitting MP, is unsure of retaining the seat.