The Congress is yet to finalise its list of candidates in Kerala for the Lok Sabha elections. The partyâ€™s Kerala leadership had met Congress President Rahul Gandhi in Delhi with a probable list on Monday.
The Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee President Mullappally Ramachandran, however, asserted that there was no reason as such for the delay. In a brief interview to TNM, he also claimed that the CPI(M) has a big leadership crisis in the state and that its senior leader and candidate for Vadakara, P Jayarajan, was a big fraud. He also said that he anticipated that the Congress-led UDF would win all the 20 seats in the state.
â€śWe were keen to finalise the list on Monday but couldnâ€™t as the Congress president had to decide on nearly 100 candidates. The delay in coming out with the list each time is not because of any reason as such. Congress is a big party and we have to complete many formalities,â€ť Mullappally said.
When asked whether the CPI and the CPI(M) have an edge in the campaign since they have already declared their candidates, the Congress leader said, â€śCanâ€™t say that they have an edge. Unlike the Left parties, the Congress is a national party.â€ť
But isnâ€™t Left the ruling party in the state? â€śWhat about Tripura and West Bengal, the CPI(M) is just a small party elsewhere in the country. After the Lok Sabha elections, the party will lose recognition at the national level,â€ť Mullappally claimed.
There are four sitting MLAs in the partyâ€™s probable candidate list, including former chief minister Oommen Chandy. About fielding sitting MLAs, Mullappally said the party hasnâ€™t taken a final decision yet.
â€śIt doesnâ€™t mean that we didnâ€™t field sitting MLAs in the frame. We have tried this earlier and succeeded too. We donâ€™t see any reason for not fielding sitting MLAs, in the first place. The second reason is what right does the CPI(M) have to flay the Congress for considering sitting MLAs to be in the election foray. Now let me ask the same question to them â€“ why have they fielded sitting MLAs? Clearly there is a leadership crisis in the CPI(M) in the state, otherwise they shouldnâ€™t have fielded criminals, they should not have fielded people who donâ€™t have any Communist background,â€ť the Congress leader said.
Mullappally asked, â€śP Jayarajan is an accused in murder cases, isnâ€™t this a major issue, being accused in a murder case? I have been reiterating that if several other cases of murder and violence were thoroughly investigated, there could be evidence against Jayarajanâ€™s involvement in them. He is not a small fraudster.â€ť
So will Jayarajanâ€™s candidature affect the Congressâ€™ chances in Vadakara? â€śYes, it will affect our party positively because the people of Vadakara are peace-loving.â€ť
Talking about fielding Oommen Chandy or VM Sudheeran, Mullappally said he is for fielding both equally.
â€śThatâ€™s my personal opinion, it doesnâ€™t mean that the party has decided so. Itâ€™s for the high command to take the final call and also for Sudheeran and Chandy to decide.â€ť
Does the Congress not have fresh faces as it is seen to be relying on senior leaders like Chandy, Sudheeran, Mullappally and KC Venugopal, and most of the leaders reiterate that they are not interested in contesting the elections?
â€śDonâ€™t interpret it like that, they are very experienced people, their service is required in Delhi, they can perform as excellent cabinet ministers, they have long years of experience as good administrators. Oommen Chandy is one of the best chief ministers the state has ever produced, can you deny this fact? That experience we would like to use at the national level.â€ť
Mullappally believes that the UDF will win all the 20 Lok Sabha seats in the state. He said, â€śMy anticipation is that UDF will win 20 out of 20 seats.â€ť
What about the rift in the Kerala Congress (M), an ally of the Congress, over the candidate for the lone seat allocated to it?
â€śI spoke to KC (M) chairman and working chairman, and hopefully the issue will be settled amicably,â€ť the Congress leader said.