Chandy holds sway over high command in candidate selection

Chandy holds sway over high command in candidate selection

Chandy holds sway over high command in candidate selection

Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy appears to have the last laugh in candidate selection for the Assembly polls, with Congress High Command on Sunday giving into his insistence on fielding leaders facing allegations.

The decision comes on the seventh day of consultations in the capital during which the central leadership was forced to turn down the demands of KPCC chief V M Sudheeran to deny tickets to “tainted” ministers and MLAs, some of them close to Chandy.

Chandy, party sources said, was adamant that he would not contest if any of these leaders mentioned by Sudheeran is denied tickets. He felt, they said, even if one was omitted from the list, it would be seen as accepting the allegations against his ministry.

The insistence of Chandy not to contest gave an impression that denial of tickets could lead to the split of the party in Kerala, which the leadership wanted to avoid.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi finally gave the nod for the list without denying tickets to ministers K Babu, Adoor Prakash and K C Joseph as well as sitting MLA Benny Behnan. Sudheeran wanted Babu, Prakash and Behnan out due to allegations and Joseph because he had contested seven times.

There were reports that Sudheeran had the support of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, who insisted that none of them should be given tickets. However, Sonia at the end opted to take a pragmatic position.

Chandy had left for Kerala on Sunday morning, informing the leadership that they could take a decision but he could not contest if any of these leaders are denied tickets.

Party sources, however, said the central leadership was unhappy at Chandy's insistence though Sudheeran had climbed down from his position of denying tickets to these four leaders. At the end, Sudheeran wanted that the ticket be denied to Prakash.

Sudheeran said he had no grudges against any person but took a position that was beneficial for the Congress.

With the CPM-led LDF and BJP going ahead with their campaigns after selecting candidates for most of the seats they are contesting, Chennithala and other leaders told central leaders that any delay would hamper the chances of the government. 

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