Thiruvananthapuram: Congress Working Committee (CWC) leader and former chief minister Oommen Chandy retracted from his earlier statement on Congress president Rahul Gandhi contesting from Wayanad Lok Sabha seat.
Much to the consternation of Congress workers, Mr Chandy clarified that he had never said that Rahul Gandhi would contest, but merely urged him. Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala said that a final decision was expected on Thursday. UDF’s key ally, Muslim League had also resorted to pressure tactics on the Congress high command not to delay the decision.
Mr Chandy dropped the bombshell when he had gone to Kozhikode to attend the campaign of UDF candidate M.K. Raghavan there. He told reporters that he had never indicated that Rahul Gandhi will contest from there.
“Our request to the AICC leadership was that Mr Gandhi should contest from Wayanad. Along with the two other South Indian States of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, Kerala too had demanded that he should be contesting from Wayanad,” said Mr Chandy.
Later, Mr Chennithala also maintained that Mr Gandhi’s candidature from Wayanad will be known by Thursday evening.
“I am hoping that Congress president will contest. If I had known in advance, I would have definitely claimed it,” said Mr Chennithala.
Sensing danger, the Muslim League has started a damage control exercise with its state president Panakkad Hyder Ali Thangal urging the AICC leadership not to further delay the candidature of Mr Gandhi from Wayanad.
Muslim League national general secretary P.K. Kunhalikutty also expressed hope that the Congress president would contest from Kerala.
The confused lot of Congress leaders are not ready to comment on whether T. Siddique will resume his campaigning. It may be recalled that it was on last Saturday, Mr Chandy had informed the reporters that Rahul Gandhi will contest from Wayanad apart from Amethi and a confirmation will be reached by the same day. However, it’s close to a week since the revelation had come which saw Mr Chandy informing Siddique to step down from his candidature. A visibly upset Siddique tried his level best to put on a cheerful face in front of the media when he addressed them.
“Rumours are rife that sometimes Mr Chandy or CWC leader K.C. Venugopal will contest from Wayanad. But with top Congress leaders mum on it, it is the party workers who have been pushed to a quandary,” said a senior Congress leader to this newspaper.
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