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In Kerala, Congress may field fresh faces for LS polls

Arun Lakshman in Thiruvananthapuram | February 07, 2009 17:18 IST

The political affairs committee of Congress in Kerala [Images], which met recently at the state headquarters, has seriously contemplated on putting up fresh faces for the ensuing general elections.

The Congress leadership, which knows that there is a fairly good chance of sweeping the polls given the lackadaisical performance of the Left Democratic Front government and the infighting in the Communist Party of India-Marxist, does not want the advantage to slip away from it.

It is learnt that Congress Working Committee member and Union Defence minister A K Antony is mainly behind the move to install fresh faces in the Congress list and sources told that a few names are seriously doing the rounds in the party.

The former UN under secretary Shashi Tharoor has already expressed his intentions to fight the elections and has categorically stated that he would be contesting only in a Congress ticket.

The former diplomat has told press persons on Friday in Palakkad that if given a chance he would fight the elections. While Congress president Sonia Gandhi [Images] is personally interested in promoting him to fill the vacuum of the expulsion of Natwar Singh from the party, local Congress leaders are not interested him except for the state Congress chief Ramesh Chennithala who has also supported his candidature.

Former Union minister S Krishna Kumar has already come out against him in several forums and is indulging in a mud slinging exercise against Shashi taking up a few writings, which he had done several years ago against the first family of the Congress party.

This is one reason, which could prove to be Waterloo for Shashi but the grass root Congressmen are also not that much interested in him as there is a feeling that once he wins the seat he would not be available locally.

The name of recently-appointed National Students' Union of India President Hybi Eaden is also prominent in the list of fresh faces. Hybi, who is considered to be one of the best faces of the Congress party, is the son of late George Eaden -- a former Lok Sabha member of the Congress party who was very popular in the grassroot level.

As the NSUI demands a full time president, there is a slight hitch in his candidature but sources told that the party would overcome this hitch and allocate the Ernakulam Lok Sabha seat to him.

The front runner among all these candidates is state president of Karshaka Congress (the farmers' body of the party) Lal Vargheese Kalpakavadi. Lal, who hails from a traditional Communist family and whose father Vargheese Vaidyan was one of the founder members of the communist movement in the state, is considered to be in the good books of all the senior party leaders.

He is considered as the only farmers' leader of the Congress party who has successfully undertaken a campaign through out the 140 assembly constituencies of the state on his yatra from Kasargod to Thiruvananthapuram, highlighting the achievements of the United Progressive Alliance government for the farmers community including the loan relief schemes.

Sources indicated that he is tipped to be the Congress candidate for the Pathanamthitta Lok Sabha seat.

The name of the Mahila Congress state president Shanimol Usman and the Youth Congress state president T Siddik are also doing the rounds. However, Shanimol had unsuccessfully contested the last assembly elections from Perumbavoor. This may be a deterrent to her candidature if the party strictly sticks to the norms.

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