Former Union Minister K V Thomas on Thursday strongly pitched for a greater role for Congress leaders K Muraleedharan, son of former Chief Minister K Karunakaran, and Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala in the party in poll-bound Kerala to blunt BJP's attempts to create inroads among Hindu majority.
Thomas said Muraleedharan or Chennithala could fill the vacuum created by the demise of Karunakaran, who "enjoyed the trust of all sections of society" in the state.
Muraleedharan is a former PCC Chief and Chennithala is the late Karunakaran's political disciple.
"No Hindu leader in the state Congress has so far been able to fill the vaccum created by the demise of Karunakaran," he said.
Thomas, who was groomed in state politics by Karunakaran, said there is a "feeling deep in the hearts of the majority Hindus" who are supporters of the Congress, that the party's state unit is dominated by leaders of Christian faith.
Recalling the period of Karunakaran and A K Antony in Congress politics in Kerala, Thomas said both were able to go together though they had differences on many issues.
During their period, there was a feeling that Congress represents all sections of the community, said Thomas, who represents Ernakulam in the Lok Sabha.
"Karunakaran's demise created a vacuum, not only as an able administrator, but one who carried the real Hindu feeling.
He was a worshiper of Guruvayoorappan (Lord Krishna of famous Guruvayoor temple.) Every other religion also trusted him.
That is a rare quality of Karunakaran," Thomas told PTI in Kochi.
"Definitely, the vacuum created by Karunakaran has to be filled by Hindu Congress leaders like Karunakaran's son Muraleedharan or Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala," he said.
Asked whether Muraleedharan should be given more responsibility, Thomas said, "Murali can take more responsibility."
His statement assumes significance in the wake of a substantial increase in BJP's vote share in Hindu-dominated areas in the state, particularly in Thiruvananthapuram, where Congress considerably lost its upper hand in local body polls last year.
Karunakaran and Muraleedharan had quit Congress in 2005 following differences with the Congress leadership.
Muraleedharan was later re-admitted in the Congress before the 2011 Assembly polls.
Thomas, however, said Chief Minister Oommen Chandy "stands first among" so many leaders who are eligible to become Chief Minister from UDF after the polls.
"But it is for the high command after the elections to take the decision in consultation with elected MLAs and the state leadership to decide the Chief Minister," he said.
Kerala goes to the polls on May 16.