Kochi: Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on Wednesday refuted reports that he had put pressure on Congress high command in the selection process of party candidates for the 16 May Assembly elections and said as a "loyal" partyman he never disobeyed the wishes of central leadership.
"As a loyal Congressman, I have never disobeyed or went against the wishes of Central leadership. I am also confident that the high command would only take decision in the larger interests of the party and the people of the state," he told PTI.
Chandy had locked horns with KPCC President V M Sudheeran, over the candidature of ministers K Babu and Adoor Prakash, who had faced corruption charges, besides NORKA Minister K C Joseph and two MLAs -Dominic Presentation and Benny Behanan - with the state party chief opposing tickets to them.
Only Behanan was kept out of the list announced late Monday evening and it was interpreted that the high command fielded the tainted leaders because of Chandy's pressure tactics.
The Chief Minister said he was saddened by such "wrong propaganda" and asserted that no Congress worker can challenge the authority of the party high command. "There is a propaganda that we had challenged the authority of Congress high command while determining party candidates. There are reports that the high command had to succumb to our pressure tactics. That is completely wrong," Chandy said.
Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala also endorsed Chandy's statement saying "we have never disobeyed party high command". Chandy said party high command's decisions cannot be disobeyed. "We will never do so. We are pained by such reports."
He said the high command cleared the list of 83 Congress candidates after listening to everyone in the leadership of state Congress.
"We are completely satisfied with the list. Some say that the list is delayed and it has affected the poll campaign. That is also wrong. It is only 6 April and we have enough time for us to reach out to the people," he said.
Chennithala dismissed as "baseless" the reports that the high command had succumbed to the pressure from party leaders from Kerala while preparing list of Congress candidates. "There is absolutely no issues with the high command. Nobody has got the authority to challenge the high command. We discussed the issues, various views were expressed. High command listened to it and took a final decision. We all are satisfied with the decision taken by the high command," Chennithala told PTI.
Sudheeran had reportedly insisted that those who faced corruption allegations and had contested more than four times should make way for fresh faces. However, this was not acceptable to Chandy.
Admitting that there were issues with Sudheeran, Chandy said all such things are common in a democratic party like Congress.
"Nothing serious in it. All such issues are resolved and we are now ready for the election battle," he said.
Chandy, Sudheeran and Chennithala spent nearly a week in Delhi to iron out differences among them over the candidature of tainted leaders.