Kochi | Amid continuing tension in Kerala Congress over giving candidature to tainted leaders, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy today arrived here after nearly week-long hectic parleys in New Delhi with party leaders, including Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, to iron out the differences.
Chandy, who is said to be unhappy over KPCC Chief V M Sudheeran’s uncompromising stand against giving tickets to Ministers K Babu and Adoor Prakash, merely said the final list of candidates for the May 16 polls would be announced by high command this afternoon.
Adopting a wait and watch stand, he refused to divulge details about the meetings he and other state leaders including Sudheeran and Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala had with party high command late evening yesterday. Meanwhile, Chandy held a brief meeting with his close associates Excise Minister Babu, Culture Minister K C Joseph and MLA Benny Behannan, on his arrival at Nedumbassery airport here.
Babu, who faced corruption allegations in bar bribery scandal, had said yesterday that he would be able to retain the Thrippunithura seat, if given a ticket. If I am fielded again as candidate from Thrippunithura seat, I have no doubts about my victory. It is 100 per cent certain I will win the polls, Babu had told a Malayalam TV channel.
His comments came amid the continuing stand-off between Chandy and Sudheeran over his candidature besides that of three others in the Congress-led ruling UDF. Chandy, Sudheeran and Chennithala had been staying in New Delhi for nearly a week to iron out the differences among them in finalising the Congress candidates for the May 16 Assembly polls.
Even after several rounds of meetings of screening committee and discussions with senior leaders, including Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, a decision was delayed due to the stand-off between Chandy and Sudheeran over candidature of Babu, Culture Minister K C Joseph, Revenue Minister Adoor Prakash and Benny Behanan.
According to party sources, Sudheeran is against giving tickets to the four, arguing that all those who had faced corruption charges and those who had already contested four times should be excluded from the list. While Babu, Joseph and Behanan are close confidants of Chandy, Prakash is a key leader in the ‘I’ faction of the Congress, owing allegiance to Chennithala.