THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: K. V. Thomas, 72, has resisted tempting offers from the BJP to lure him into its fold after he was denied the Ernakulam Lok Sabha seat by the AICC, which announced the list of 13 seats on Saturday. None other than Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself called him over phone, besides BJP national president Amit Shah, union finance minister Arun Jaitley, textiles minister Smriti Irani and the RSS top brass in Nagpur. But he spurned their offers and the AICC and KPCC heaved a sigh of relief over the passing of the danger that had suddenly appeared on the horizon. Thomas told the media outside his home in New Delhi that he will stay put in the Congress party.
He conveyed to Modi and Amit Shah that he will remain a Congress-man. He also told Jaitl-ey, who gave him lucrative offers, including a cabinet rank post, that he will never be able to follow the saffron politics. That dashed the hop-es of the Kerala BJP leaders for a prize catch on the eve of the elections.
“Thomas told Jaitley that he does not wear khadi on his body, but keeps it in his mind. Thomas did not attend the calls made by Tom Vadakkan who tried to become a messenger,” said a source.
Initially, Thomas, five- time MP, was in no mood to listen to Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala, who called on him. However, after day-long deliberations with KPCC and AICC leadership, Thomas said he would remain a Congress worker and will not harm the party.
"I have my own identity and am not concerned with posts, though I was hurt by the treatment meted out to me by the party. Congress will win in Ernakulam as it is a Congress stronghold," said Thomas
Alarm bells had started ringing in the Congress camp on Saturday when Thomas was approached by the BJP with offers. Ahmed Patel, political secretary to UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, and Mukul Wasnik, AICC general secretary in-charge of the state, held telephonic talks with Thomas late on Saturday night. Thomas was more upset with the leaders, including former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi, CWC member A. K. Antony and Congress president Rahul Gandhi, for letting him down when Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala batted for Hibi Eden. Chennithala convinced the central election committee that Hibi stood a better chance to defeat CPM’s P. Rajiv. This led Thomas to shout in anger at Chennithala when he initiated damage control measures by coming to his home.
“KPCC president Mull-apally Ramachandran had favoured Thomas. But he was cowed down by Chennithala, K. C. Venugopal and UDF convener Benny Behanan who will contest from Chalakudy. KPCC vice- president V. D. Satheesan MLA, who is also a member of the AICC publicity and publication committee, secured the support of MLAs in favour of Hibi which was the biggest shock for Thomas,” said a Congress source.
Thomas will meet Sonia Gandhi on Monday morning when she is expected to offer him key posts in the party. She has already asked him not to take any “hasty decision.” Later, Mullapally also said that there was opposition within the party against giving him another term.