Mullappally opts out of fray

AICC to announce candidates’ list soon

Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president Mullappally Ramachandran on Wednesday hinted in New Delhi that he might not contest the Assembly elections in Kerala.

A party insider said the KPCC had considered fielding him from Kannur. However, he had reportedly demurred. The party also felt Mr. Ramachandran would be hard-pressed to campaign amidst his State-wide duties as KPCC president. Mr. Ramachandran’s decision not to be in the fray reportedly has the Congress High Command’s backing.

Moreover, Mr. Ramachandran’s candidature would have opened the door for another round of intra-party bickering for the KPCC president’s post. Party workers had dropped K. Sudhakaran and K. Muraleedharan, both MPs, as possible names for the position.

Mr. Ramachandran, Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala and former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy were in the national capital to finalise the candidates’ list. Both Mr. Chennithala and Mr. Chandy are in the fray.

The All India Congress Committee (AICC) would take a final call on the list submitted by the leaders. The national leadership is armed with its assessment of individual candidates and constituencies in Kerala. The names of former Excise Minister K. Babu and Congress veteran K.C. Joseph reportedly cropped up in New Delhi deliberations. Both are reckoned to be close to Mr. Chandy. Here, an anti-corruption court had exonerated Mr. Babu of wrongdoing in the bar bribery case that had rocked the previous Oommen Chandy government.

The AICC was poised to announce the candidate list by March 11. The national leadership has sworn by youth and women representation. It had also directed the KPCC to eschew seat-sharing based on group equations. Instead, the AICC said it would only assign seats based on the individual candidate’s winning chances.

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