Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala PCC president Ramesh Chennithala on Thursday said it was for the party high command to take a final decision on whether he should contest the April 13 Assembly elections in the state. "I don't have any election fever. If the party asks me to contest, I will," he said at a meet-the-press programme here, reacting to reports that the high command had given him the nod to contest.
To a question on his future role in the Assembly if he contested and won, Chennithala said, "A member can sit in the front bench, back bench or side bench." Asked whether senior leader Oommen Chandy would continue to be the Chief Ministerial candidate of the Congress, he said Chandy was "in every sense fit for the post". However, the Congress has its procedure in choosing Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader after the elections, he said.
Chennithala's comments follow reports yesterday that in a departure from the practice of state unit heads keeping off the poll arena, he had been given the nod by the party high command to contest in the elections. The move is seen by observers as part of a strategy to dispel the impression prevailing especially in communally sensitive central and south Kerala that minority communities were given prominence in UDF.
Congress's calculations of maintaining communal balance in selection of UDF candidates has been upset to some extent by the demand of the Christian-dominated Kerala Congress (Mani) for more seats this time. A long-time ally of Congress in Kerala, KC(M) has based its claim on the ground that its support base has strengthened with the Kerala Congress (Joseph) faction merging with it and quitting the LDF.
Describing as "politically motivated" the ruling LDF's alleged attempt to implicate Opposition Leader Chandy in the Palmolein case, Chennithala said the people of the state would ignore the issue, which was being raked up after 20 years. Kerala government has filed a petition in the Special Vigilance Court dealing with the Palmolein case seeking further probe contending that some more persons were likely to become accused in the case, seen as an attempt to drag in Chandy in the scam.
On the issue of Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan's candidature, he said the CPI-M was trying to create a drama over the issue for political benefits, but the attempt would prove futile. Chennithala alleged that Achuthanandan had compromised with corruption in the past few years, running away from the issues he raised as the Leader of Opposition.
The Chief Minister could not take action against the lottery mafia which looted the state and kept his eyes closed on all the corruption issues he raised previously, he alleged. He also alleged that Achuthanandan, who he said "gave directions to file cases against Opposition leaders when charges were raised by certain individuals who lacked credibility", had not taken any action when Chandy gave in writing the charges against his son V A Arun Kumar.
Kumar has been charged by opposition parties with allegedly scuttling a CBI probe into the running of other state lotteries in Kerala.
Chennithala alleged Kerala had been passing through a "phase of non-governance" in the past few years. The administration was "paralysed" as CPI-M leaders were more engaged in infighting on various issues than concentrating on
the state's development, he alleged.
In the coming elections, Congress-led UDF would put forth a development agenda that would ensure political stability and corruption-free governance with commitment to people to build a modernised and model state, he said.