New state Cong chief ahead of Kerala Assembly polls?

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THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: With Assembly polls in Kerala slated to be held in April-May 2021, talks are doing the rounds that the state Congress could get a new chief as incumbent Mullappally Ramachandran is likely to be moved to the Upper House of Parliament.

Congress’ Kannur Lok Sabha MP K Sudhakaran is the front runner for the party post, and he has given enough indications that he is ready to step in.

At the same time, there are also talks that the lone Rajya Sabha seat, which the Congress-led opposition is certain to win in April, might be given to outgoing Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad.

The Congress expects that by sending Azad to the Upper House from Kerala, it could well keep the Muslim community in Kerala firmly on its side, a crucial factor in the Assembly elections.

Currently, Indian Union Muslim League — the second biggest ally in the Congress-led UDF — has a firm grip on the Muslim community in the coastal state. But, of late, the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist is doing everything possible to split the Muslim votes.

A senior Congress leader told IANS on the condition of anonymity that things are quite fluid as to finalisation of candidate for one of the three Rajya Sabha seats that the Congress-led UDF will win.

“It is not easy for our leadership to come to a decision because it has always been the practice to accommodate outgoing state President. In 2011, the present Leader of Opposition in the Kerala Assembly, Ramesh Chennithala, was the state unit chief. He was asked to contest the Assembly polls. So if Ramachandran is moved, he will either be asked to contest the Assembly polls or given the Rajya Sabha seat,” the leader said.

Ramachandran, 76, enjoys the reputation of a no-nonsense leader and has been in the Lok Sabha for a record seven times. In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, he did not contest his Vatakara seat in Kozhikode district.

It will be known in the coming days whether the Congress effects a rejig in organisational posts, as it tries hard to regain power in Kerala.

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