Mohsina tight-lipped on Karunakaran issue

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Kochi, Nov 3 (UNI) AICC general secretary in-charge of Kerala Mohsina Kidwai today remained non-committal on the return of veteran leader K Karunakaran to the party and said her first visit here after assuming charge was to review the general situation in the state.

Talking to reporters here, Ms Kidwai said she would meet the state party leaders, including Leader of the Opposition Oommen Chandy and KPCC president Ramesh Chennithala, to discuss the party affairs.

''I would convey the views of the state leaders to party president Sonia Gandhi,'' she added.

Asked if the return of the estranged veteran leader K Karunakaran was on the agenda of her three-day visit, Ms Kidwai said there were various other issues to be discussed with the state leaders.

Ms Kidwai, who addressed the valedictory session of a party leadership training camp here this evening, emphasised the need to maintain unity and discipline in the party. ''Without these, the party cannot achieve the goals it has set for itself,'' she said.

Speaking at the same function, Mr Chennithala said it was for the party high command to decide whether Mr Karunkaran should be taken back into the party fold.

''Anyone who accepts the leadership of Sonia Gandhi is welcome to join the party. The decision on this is to be taken not by the DCC or the KPCC, but the party high command. We in Kerala will wholeheartedly accept the party high command's decision,'' he added.

However, Mr Chennithala also said that groupism, which had been the bane of the Congress in Kerala for the past 30 years, was being eradicated over the past two years and the party was now working unitedly.

Ms Kidwai, who is staying in Kochi for tonight, is to meet local leaders, including Mr Chennithala, this evening.

She will leave for Kollam tomorrow morning en route to Thiruvananthapuram. She is scheduled to return to Delhi on Monday.

Ms Kidwai's visit to Kerala comes amidst renewed speculation about the return of Mr Karunakaran, sparked by his recent statements praising Mrs Sonia Gandhi's ''efficient leadership''.

Mr Karunakaran, who parted ways with the Congress two years ago after floating the Democratic Indira Congress, later merged the DIC with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) of Mr Sharad Pawar.

Apart from Mr Chennithala, other state stalwarts, including Defence Minister A K Antony, Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi and Mr Chandy have also said that it was for the party high command to decide on the return of Mr Karunakaran to the Congress.

UNI

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