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Karunakaran suffers another jolt as Cong hardens stand

Written by: Staff

Thiruvananthapuram, Mar 22: Veteran leader K Karunakaran tonight suffered yet another setback when the Congress hardened its stand on entering into a tie-up with the year-old Democratic Indira Congress (K).

''The issue is not before us now. Mr Karunakaran's speech at the DIC(K) Kochi meet on March 20 has hurt the feelings of Congressmen,'' KPCC President Ramesh Chennithala told newspersons after a crucial meeting of the United Democratic Front(UDF).

UDF Convener P P Thankachan said the DIC(K) issue did not come up for discussion in today's meeting.

Though bargaining hard for more number of seats and wanting to retain the party's identity, Mr Karunakaran was having much hope from today's UDF meeting as the CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) had already closed the doors on the DIC(K), formed in May last year after splitting from the Congress.

It was on the initiative of the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), the second largest constituent of the ruling combine, that the Congress began discussions with the DIC(K). Even as the UDF meeting was in progress, IUML General Secretary P K Kunhalikutty and Education Minister E T Mohammed Basheer drove straight to the city residence of Mr Karunakaran to make a last ditch attempt.

Soon after Congress Working Committee member incharge of Kerala affairs Veerappa Moily stated there was no need for two Congress parties in the UDF, DIC(K) President and Mr Karunakaranan's son K Muraleedharan made it clear his party would contest all the 140 seats in the April-May Assembly polls.

Mr Moily had held two rounds of discussions with Mr Karunakaran earlier. But he cancelled his crucial meeting today, apparently in view of strong opposition from a section of Congress leaders.

It was Chief Minister Oommen Chandy who came out with a strong statement against the DIC(K) in the afternoon, hardly a few hours after Mr Karunakaran postponed his DIC(K)'s Parliamentary Party meeting for tomorrow in view of the UDF meet that was expected to take a final decision today.

'' The Congress was very cautious when discussing the alliance with the DIC(K) as we have a past record. The party has become vigilant in the backdrop of the past happenings when it faced defeat in the 2004 Parliament elections and also the resignation of nine MLAs loyal to Mr Karunakaran,'' Chandy told reporters after the Cabinet meeting here.

Any alliance should impress the people and their confidence should be taken into account for the same. he said, adding it should also not be against the interest of the state.

Party sources said it was unlikely that a settlement would be reached before the next UDF meeting scheduled for 1500 hrs tomorrow. Mr Karunkaran was expected to make DIC(K)'s stand clear at its parliamentary party meeting in the morning. If nothing materialises, the option before Mr Karunakaran would be limited. In the highly bi-polar political scenario of Kerala centering around the two fronts, he would have to either go alone in the election or enter into an understanding with the BJP.

However, political observers say that an open understanding between the DIC(K) and the BJP was unlikely. But some sort of seat adjustments would benefit both the parties, particularly the BJP which has yet to open its account in the state Assembly.


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