Thiruvananthapuram: Congress on Thursday decided to allot the Rajya Sabha seat, which falls vacant with the retirement of senior party leader PJ Kurien, to Kerala Congress (M), triggering strong protest from a section of party leaders in the state.
The decision to allot the seat to KC-M was announced by senior leaders of the party-led UDF at New Delhi after meeting Congress president, Rahul Gandhi.
Opposition leader in the state Assembly, Ramesh Chennithala, AICC general secretary Oommen Chandy and KPCC president MM Hassan said the decision to allot the Rajya Sabha seat was taken to strengthen UDF as part of the party's resolve to bring together democratic and secular forces to take on BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
"Rajya Sabha seat was given to KC-M as a special case," Chandy said.
The decision was part of the UDF formula to bring back the miffed KC-M, which broke away from the front two-years ago over differences with the Congress on the 'Bar scam' in which KC-M supremo and former finance minister KM Mani is facing bribery allegations.
Indian Union Muslim League All India general secretary and MP, PK Kunhalikutty, who was entrusted by UDF to resolve the issue with KC-M, was also present at the press meet.
Reacting sharply, former KPCC president VM Sudheeran, said the decision was "suicidal" and would only help in "destroying" the Congress in Kerala.
It has also "hurt" the sentiments of party workers, Sudheeran said, adding, he was "pained."
"No party worker can accept this and it was totally unexpected," he said.
"The party should not have surrendered its pride to KC-M to bring it back to the front," Sudheeran said.
Echoing similar sentiments, Kurien said no discussion was held in the party or election committee. "This is a surrender of the Congress," he told reporters in Delhi.
Attacking Chandy, the Rajya Sabha peputy chairman said he (Chandy) was the 'main architect' of this decision.
Referring to the demand made by a section of young MLAs not to renominate him to the upper House, he said "I have told the party that even if I am not considered, the seat should be held by the Congress itself as there are many eligible leaders who can be nominated to the upper House."
KC-M was keeping equidistance from UDF, the ruling CPM-led LDF and also BJP-led NDA for the past two years.
However, KC-M had extended support to UDF candidates for all the three bypolls held in the state.
Meanwhile, six congress MLAs have shot off letters to Congress president Rahul Gandhi, against the party's decison to allot the Rajya Sabha seat to KC-M.
VT Balaram told PTI that the decision had 'disappointed' party workers.
"We have asked the Congress president to reconsider the decision and recommend a party candidate. It has also affected the morale of the party workers," he said.
A total three Rajya Sabha seats from Kerala are falling vacant later this month, of which, as per the strength of UDF MLAs, the front could win one and LDF two seats.
Besides Kurien, CPM leader CP Narayanan and Joy Abraham of the Kerala Congress are retiring on 1 July.
Meanwhile, KM Mani welcomed the decision and said his party will be meeting on Friday to take a final decision on returning to the UDF.
The UDF's liaison committee meeting is also slated for Friday.
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Updated Date: Jun 08, 2018 07:13:14 IST