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Congress bullies allies before Kerala polls

March 14, 2011 17:25 IST

The Kerala unit of the Congress has made it clear to its allies that it would not succumb to their pressure tactics while finalising a seat sharing deal for the party-led coalition United Democratic Front in the forthcoming assembly polls.

A top Congress leader, while speaking on condition of anonymity, told that the party would rather sit in the Opposition than budge from its stance due to the pressure tactics of its coalition partners.

One of the Congress's allies in the state is Janadipathya Samarakshana Samithi, a political outfit floated by veteran Communist leader K R Gowri, who became part of the UDF fold after being expelled from the Communist Party of India-Marxist.

Gowri, 92, has bargained hard to contest five seats in the election to the 140-seat assembly. But the Congress has made it clear that the party was willing to give only four seats to the JSS and it was up to the latter to take a final call on it.

Similarly, the Kerala Congress-Mani wanted 22 seats, which is double of its share of seats during the last assembly elections. Party chief K M Mani had contended that the Kerala Congress-Joseph and the Kerala Congress-Secular, which were part of the Left Democratic Front, had merged with it. Together, the three parties had contested 18 seats in the last assembly elections.

But the Congress is firm on granting just 14 seats to the Kerala Congress-Mani, sources said.

Mani is also seeking a Cabinet berth at the Centre for his son, first time Member of Parliament Jos K Mani. But senior state Congress leaders, including Oomen Chandy and Ramesh Chennithala, have turned down his request, according to sources.

The state Congress leadership has pointed out that there are already six ministers in the Union Cabinet from Kerala.

The Communist Marxist Party, another constituent of the UDF, was also told clearly that that it would get just three seats for the forthcoming polls and the Congress would decide which seats those will be.

CMP leader M V Raghavan was planning to contest from Azeecode in Kannur district but the district Congress leadership has opposed this decision.

But the Congress has not disturbed its political equation with the Muslim League, which is popular at the grassroots level in the Malabar area. The Congress wants to cash in on theĀ  popularity of the Muslim League to overcome the strong Communist Party of India Marxist cadre strength in the districts of Kasargod, Kannur and Kozhikode. The UDF also wants to increase its tally of seats in Malappuram district where the Muslim League enjoys a strong presence.

Arun Lakshman In Thiruvananthapuram