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Kerala Congress may soon split
George Iype in Kochi |
November 04, 2003 01:55 IST
The Kerala unit of the Congress seems to be heading for a split as rivalry between Chief Minister A K Antony and senior leader K Karunakaran has reached a point of no return.
On Monday, Antony criticised Karunakaran and challenged him to topple his government. The CM said there is no need for him to convene the assembly and prove majority, as demanded by Karunakaran and the opposition parties.
"The Marxist leaders are trying to poach legislators from the Congress party and the United Democratic Front, which has the mandate to rule the state. Everybody in Kerala is eager to know who the chief ministerial candidate of the Marxist party is," Antony said.
He said the opposition Left Democratic Front, led by the Communist Party of India-Marxist, has got just 40 members in the assembly. "But they want to oust to me by any means because the Marxists are power hungry and want to divide the Congress party," he said.
But Karunakaran said the government's days are numbered.
Karunakaran's aides said the Congress leader has held a number of meetings with CPI-M leaders to plan for a new council of ministers after ousting Antony. "Antony has lost the majority in the House. I can prove that I have the support of 71 MLAs in the assembly. But for that the chief minister needs to convene the assembly," Karunakaran said.
Karunakaran's faction claims that some 23 legislators support the senior leader. The former CM expects that once the move to oust Antony gains momentum some of the UDF partners will change their loyalty and support him.
Karunakaran's son K Muraleedharan, who is also the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president, has been going around the state in the past two weeks to rustle up support for his father. "Removal of Antony as chief minister is the only solution to end the problems of Congress in Kerala. If the Congress high command does not do that, Antony will be forced to quit soon," Muraleedharan told a group of followers at a public meeting on Sunday.
Even as Congress president Sonia Gandhi remains a mute spectator, CPI-M leaders have called for a new government.
Many expect that if the Congress high command does not intervene, the party will split by November 19, when Karunakaran has called a rally at Kochi.
Some of Karunakaran's supporters disclosed that in the coming days, the former CM and the opposition leaders might even go to the governor with the names of 71 legislators and ask for the removal of Antony.
Karunakaran's supporter and party leader P C Chacko agrees that the Congress is headed for a split. "The problems in the Congress have reached such a grave situation that there is no scope for any compromise between the two groups. Now it looks there will be fast changes in the political landscape in Kerala in the coming days," Chacko told rediff.com