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KPCC chief Chennithala likely to contest polls

March 09, 2011 13:40 IST
In an important development for the United Democratic Front in Kerala, Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee President Ramesh Chennithala is expected to contest the assembly polls, setting aside the normal practice of state unit heads keeping off the electoral fray for organisational reasons.

The party high command has given nod to Chennithala to enter the fray if he prefers to do so, according to sources close to Chennithala.

The move to is seen by observers as part of a strategy to placate the majority sentiments by offsetting the impression of prominence of the minority communities in the UDF, especially in communally sensitive central and sough Kerala.

The Congress's calculations of striking a communal balancing in selection of UDF candidates has been upset to a certain extent by the demand of the Christian-dominated Kerala Congress-Mani for more seats this time.

A long-time ally of the Congress in Kerala, KC-M has based its claim on the ground that its support base has strengthened with the Kerala Congress-Joseph faction merging with it and quitting the LDF.

The KC factions were said to have merged with the blessings of a powerful section in the church establishment, which had openly resented the policies of the Left Democratic Front, especially in the education sector.

The Kerala Congress-M, which has been pressing for 22 seats this time against 11 it received in 2006, would be getting most of its segments in the Central Trvancore districts of  Kottayam, Pathanamthitta and Idukki.

The Congress would also have to field some of its prominent Christian faces in the area.

Calculations of the party strategists is that fielding a heavyweight candidate like Chennithala would balance the communal equations and placate community outfits like the Nair Service Society. Chennithala, who belongs to the Nair community, has always maintained good euations with the NSS leadership.

According to sources, the entry of Chennithala is unlikely to upset the chances of senior leader Oommen Chandy, who is widely seen as the frontrunner for the chief minister's post.
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