Thursday, Oct 16, 2003
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By Our Special Correspondent
In his detailed report submitted to the Disciplinary Action Committee (DAC), as per its directions, Mr. Muraleedharan identified several reasons for the defeat, but the major thrust of the report was that the unacceptable positions of the Chief Minister both prior to the by-election and during electioneering damaged the party's prospects.
He said in his report that Mr. Antony had made provocative speeches during electioneering, while at the same time no effort whatsoever was made to mollify the hurt sentiments of the veteran Congress leader, K. Karunakaran. Mr. Muraleedharan also identified the Chief Minister's controversial statement on minority-majority equations and the action of the Tourism Minister, K.V. Thomas, in presenting a memento to the Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, as two other major factors that went against the Congress party's interests in the by-election.
The report said that the statements of the AICC general Secretary, Vayalar Ravi, and the AICC secretary, Ramesh Chennithala, and the import of party workers from elsewhere also harmed the campaign. To substantiate his observations, Mr. Muraleedharan has cited incidents where election posters were pasted in the nearby Muvattupuzha constituency.
The report said that the election evaluation process was also done in a faulty manner with the KPCC president being kept in the dark about the developments. It said that Mr. Antony did not bother to call on the ailing IUML supremo, Panakkad Syed Mohammed Ali Shihab Thangal. Moreover, Mr. Antony refused to call on the family of the late IUML leader, C.H. Mohammed Koya, to express his condolence at the death of Koya's widow. However, Mr. Antony did not lose the opportunity to participate in a function organised at the NSS headquarters. Even though the NSS gave an indirect call to vote for the UDF, the Congress party did not benefit electorally, said the KPCC president in his report.
Mr. Muraleedharan said that the party had failed to poll Nair and Ezhava votes and cited the voting pattern in the Paravur and Thripunithura assembly segments.
The report indicated that in effect, the UDF had lost its traditional voters but did not make any electoral gains in terms of new voters. Mr. Muraleedharan submitted the detailed report on the basis of the direction given to him by R.K. Dhawan, a member of the Disciplinary Action Committee headed by L.P. Shahi, probing the Ernakulam debacle.
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