In a setback to the Congress in Kerala, senior party leader K Sudhakaran on Thursday said he would not contest against Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in Dharmadom constituency in northern Kannur district.
He said he did not get enough time to make any fundamental preparations at the constituency, which was inevitable ahead of contesting and so he did not want to be a contender at the segment during the April 6 assembly polls.
Requesting the All Indian Congress Committee (AICC) and the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) to exclude him from the list, Sudhakaran, also a member of Parliament, said even the district Congress committee was not in favour of him contesting from the segment.
Till Sudhakaran came up with his denial statement, senior Congress leaders including KPCC chief Mullappally Ramachandran have given enough indications that he would be the party nominee against the chief minister.
Ramachandran said in the morning that the party wanted the Kannur MP to face off against Vijayan and the leadership was awaiting his nod.
"The party leadership has asked me to contest from Dharmadom. I welcome it and express my gratitude. But, there is a special circumstance which is not favourable for me. I also have the responsibility of working for the party candidates' victory in five constituencies in Kannur," Sudhakaran told reporters.
If preparations had begun much earlier, the party could have made significant progress in campaigning and achieve a thumping victory in Dharmadom, he claimed.
The DCC in Kannur wanted to field its secretary C Reghunath from Dharmadom, the leader added.
The Congress leadership's attempt to field a stronger candidate against Pinarayi Vijayan has received a blow with the backtracking of Sudhakaran.
According to party sources, the candidate for Dharamadom would be announced from New Delhi soon.