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Rajya Sabha seat for Karunakaran likely

By Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, MARCH 15. The senior Congress leader, K. Karunakaran, appears all set to return to Parliament via the Rajya Sabha though the party did not announce his candidature till late this evening.

Meanwhile, the screening committee of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) seems to have arrived at an agreement on most of the seats the party is contesting from the State.

The AICC screening committee for Kerala met under the chairmanship of the senior Congress leader, Shivraj Patil, for three hours late last night and again this morning to prepare a final list for clearance by the Central Election Committee (CEC) of the party, which met twice today.

While Mr. Karunakaran getting the party's nomination for the Rajya Sabha vacancy in the State is almost certain, the candidature of his daughter, Padmaja Venugopal, for the Mukundapuram Parliament seat — held in the 13th Lok Sabha by the octogenarian Congressman — has apparently become a matter of contention. So also, the Kozhikode seat where Mr. Karunakaran wants to field V. Balaram who vacated his Wadakkancherry Assembly segment in favour of the former's son and Electricity Minister, K. Muraleedharan.

Still, Ms. Venugopal and Mr. Balaram remain the front-runners for the Mukundapuram and Kozhikode seats.

Others from the Karunakaran faction who are in the "final shortlist'' are V. S. Siva Kumar (Thiruvananthapuram), K. V. Tulasi (Ottapalam), Edward Edayath (Ernakulam), M. T. Padma (Vadakara) and Sooranad Rajasekharan (Kollam).

As of now, the Antony faction has got eight of its loyalists in the "final shortlist'' — A. C. Jose (Thrissur), N. A. Mohammed (Kasaragod), Mullapally Ramachandran (Kannur), Kodikunnil Suresh (Adoor), Benny Behnan (Idukki), Anto Antony (Kottayam), M. I. Shahnavas (Chiranyinkeezhu) and V. M. Sudheeran (Alappuzha).

This apart, two seats have been set aside for the third faction with Mavelikara going to the group leader, Ramesh Chennithala, and Palakkad to V. S. Vijayaraghavan.

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