Discontent in Cong in Kerala over selection of candidates

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Kannur (Ker), Mar 16 (PTI) Discontent is brewing in the Congress in Kerala over the selection of candidates for the April 6 assembly polls with senior party leader K Sudhakaran attacking AICC general secretary (organisation) K C Venugopal and veterans Ramesh Chennithala and Oommen Chandy, alleging they were responsible for all troubles.

AICC general secretary Kerala in-charge Tariq Anwar rejected the allegations of Sudhakaran, party's Kannur MP, saying the candidates were selected after taking him also into confidence.

Meanwhile, a convention of 'A' group workers of the party in Kannur district on Tuesday decided to urge the party high command to withdraw the candidature of Sajeev Joseph from Irikkur seat and field their leader Sony Sebastian.

The protesting Congress workers warned of serious consequences in the election if it failed to heed their voices.

The 'A' group workers who assembled at an auditorium in Sreekantapuram said winnability should be the criteria and Sajeev Joseph will not be able to win Irikkur seat, a party stronghold, in the election.

UDF convener M M Hassan and senior party leader K C Joseph, who were deputed by the state party leadership to tackle the situation, failed to mollify the workers in Irikkur where the infighting erupted over denial of ticket to Sony Sebastian.

The two leaders held talks with the leaders of the agitating groups but in vain.

The 'A' group leaders also alleged that the 'I' group took the seat from them, using the influence of Venugopal in the party high command.

'I' group in the state Congress is led by senior leader Ramesh Chennithala.

The seat had been held by K C Joseph, a senior leader associated with the 'A' group led by Oommen Chandy, since long.

Joseph, a former minister, is not contesting this time.

The protesting 'A' group leaders have quit various posts in the Kannur district congress over denial of ticket to Sony Sebastian.

The election campaign exercise of the Congress in Kannur district is virtually hit by the protests.

The two groups-- 'A' and 'I'-- have been active in the state unit of Congress since the period of veteran leader and late K Karunakaran and senior leader A K Antony.

Attacking Venugopal over the issue, Sudhakaran claimed he was responsible for all the troubles in the Congress in Kannur.

In a television interview, Sudhakaran, who is also the working president of the KPCC, said he was not interested in continuing in the post.

In an emotional outburst, he also alleged that for Kerala's party workers high command means Venugopal, not party president Sonia Gandhi or leader Rahul Gandhi.

'Venugopal, Oommen Chandy and Chennithala are responsible for all the troubles in the party,' he said.

Dismissing the allegations, Anwar said he had spoken to Sudhakaran individually.

'I heard him individually (during the selection process) and whatever he suggested we tried to accommodate,' he said.

Sudhakaran was later placated by the party's state leadership.

Talking to reporters, he said he would work for the defeat of the CPI(M)-led LDF in the election.

Party sources said the protests in other parts of the state, barring Kannur, have been contained.

They expressed hope that peace would be brought in the Kannur unit in two days.

The Congress on Sunday released its first list of 86 candidates of the 92 seats it is contesting, fielding former Chief Minister Chandy from Puthuppally and Leader of the Opposition in the assembly Chennithala from Haripad.

Vatakara MP K Muraleedharan, son of veteran Congress leader late K Karunakaran, has been fielded from Thiruvananthapuram''s Nemom constituency, the lone seat won by the BJP in the 2016 assembly polls. PTI TGB BN BN