THIRUVANANTHAPURAM/DELHI: Senior Congress leader A.K. Antony, who was the three-term Chief Minister of Kerala, will be leading the party campaign in the forthcoming Assembly elections. The decision was taken at a meeting between the state Congress leaders and the party high command in New Delhi on Monday morning.
The big three leaders of the state Congress, Kerala unit chief Mullappally Ramachandran, former Chief Minister and CWC member Oomen Chandy and Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala met the party president Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, general secretary in-charge of the state Tariq Anwar, general secretary (Organisation) K.C. Venugopal and CWC member A.K. Antony.
The meeting decided that both Oomen Chandy and Ramesh Chennithala will contest the elections, and in accordance with the Congress style of functioning the Chief Minister candidate will be finalised only after the party and the UDF wins a majority.
The state Congress is in a spot following the drubbing it faced in the recent local body elections, even after the ruling Left front was in a quagmire of several controversies, including corruption charges and gold smuggling case.
Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee general secretary and senior Congress leader Manacadu Suresh told IANS said, “Antony taking the lead in the campaign will bring in a lot of goodwill to the Congress party in the state. With the high command deciding on a collective leadership and the high command taking the reins of the electioneering in its hands, will take the party to great heights.”
Highly placed sources in the Congress told IANS that Antony is scheduled to arrive in the state after February 15 and will stay put in the state till the elections are over.
With the high command pushing in the candidature of Oomen Chandy also in the next Assembly elections, the major constituent of the UDF, the Indian Union Muslim League is elated.
IUML national organising secretary and Member Parliament, E.T. Mohammed Basheer told IANS, “Oomen Chandy is a leader who knows the pulse of the grassroots and is contesting the elections, and a collective leadership for the Congress will give the front a major fillip. The presence of former Chief Minister A.K. Antony will be the much needed relief for the front as this will be a fight against the corrupt and the anti-people LDF government. Antony who is considered as the Mr. Clean of the Indian politics will do a lot of good for our election prospects.”
A.K. Antony while speaking to IANS said, “I will be in Kerala during the election as always but there will be a campaign committee chairman for the Congress party in the elections. I will be in the state after the Budget session of Parliament”.