Congress candidates in Kerala to be discussed at grassroots

New Delhi, Feb 22 (IANS) After the first round of discussions between top Kerala leaders and the Congress high command here on Monday, a broad consensus emerged on the first round of selection of candidate at the grassroots level — probably for the first time for the party in the state.

Addressing reporters after the nearly 90-minute meeting with Congress president Sonia Gandhi and other national leaders, state Congress president V.M. Sudheeran said it was decided to have a meeting at the district level to prepare a list of probable candidates for the assembly polls where “winnability and acceptability” would be the main yardsticks.

“At the district level, the district president will meet general secretaries looking after each of the 14 districts along with senior district leaders and prepare a list.

“This will be then discussed between Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala and myself, after which it will be sent to the state election committee which will then hand it to the high command,” said Sudheeran.

He said simultaneously discussions will also be held between the allies of the United Democratic Front over seat-sharing.

Monday’s meeting was attended by Sudheeran, Chandy and Chennithala.

The focus on candidate selection from the grassroots level is something that has not been heard in the Congress party in the state, where seats and posts have always been divided by the various factions in the party.

Asked if he will be contesting, Sudheeran said: “At today’s meetings, individual names were not discussed.”

The Congress in Kerala is aiming to retain power and already both Sonia Gandhi and party vice president Rahul Gandhi on their recent visits to the state asked top leaders to ensure that they put an end to squabbling amongst themselves and work unitedly, especially after the rout in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

Before the meeting, Chandy told reporters that the practice of the party was to follow the guidelines that the high command lays down.

“In our party, the high command’s decision is final and no one challenges it. One thing I can assure is that there will be new faces who would be fielded,” said Chandy.

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