UDF leadership 'hangs' in balance

The reasons are not far to seek though the party has refused to confirm reports that there may be obstacles in the way of former Kerala chief minister Oommen Chandy contesting the elections. The vigilance special court here is expected to deliver its verdict on Monday on the government’s plea to reopen investigations into the palmolein case. Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan had indicated that more persons were likely to be included as accused in the case apparently in reference to Chandy who was finance minister when the palmolein deal was signed. Chandy has termed the move political vendetta since his name had not figured anywhere in the deal for the last 20 years when even two Left Democratic Front governments had ruled.

Though Chandy had evaded a direct reply when asked whether he will contest the elections if arraigned as accused, he had admitted that there was indeed a question mark on not just his appointment as chief minister but even his candidature.

It is a fair guess as to why Ramesh Chennithala has indicated his readiness to contest “if asked to do so” and Union Minister Vayalar Ravi’s daughter Lakshmi is suddenly in the limelight. RSP national secretary T J Chandrachoodan remarked about the Congress’s predicament here on Saturday, “Ramesh has been asked to contest by the Congress so that he can take over as CM if Chandy is not able to do so”.

According to Chandrachoodan, it is not just Ramesh, who is also angling for the top job in Kerala. “The sudden emergence of the name of Ravi’s daughter from the Kottayam seat is linked to this fluid situation.” Ravi sees his own chances of becoming the chief minister and can contest from his daughter’s seat if needed,” he said. here.

However, it may not be a smooth ride for Lakshmi as her candidature has been opposed by many in the Kottayam District Congress Committee. The flip side is that the Kottayam seat was represented by Ravi's wife, the late Mercy Ravi.  

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