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Full-fledged factional war in Congress

By Our Special Correspondent

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, JUNE 2. The attack against two former general secretaries, Rajmohan Unnithan and Saratchandra Prasad, has set the stage for a fresh round of factional war, though with a new dimension.

The attack against the two has put the Karunakaran faction in the dock, with several Congress leaders, including K. Sudhakaran, a Minister in the Antony Cabinet, openly naming the former KPCC president, K. Muraleedharan, and his men for being responsible for the incident. Mr. Muraleedharan, in turn, alleged that the incident was a conspiracy given the fact that the former KPCC office-bearers did not have any locus standi to attend a function, as they were ordinary members.

The UDF convener, Oommen Chandy, also explained that the two had arrived at the Priyadarshni auditorium, the meeting venue, as per an understanding worked out earlier in the day. As per this understanding that was approved by the KPCC president, P. P. Thankachan, after consultation with other leaders, presumably, Mr. Karunakaran and Mr. Muraleedharan, the two were supposed to meet Mr. Thankachan at the meeting venue. They were supposed to return after hearing Mr. Thankachan's explanation for refusing them entry into the executive. The Karunakaran faction spokesperson, N. Venugopal, denying either Mr. Muraleedharan's or his involvement in the incident, wanted Mr. Chandy to disclose the terms of the understanding purported to have been worked out with the two former KPCC general secretaries. The Third Group leader, Ramesh Chennithala, did not comment on the incident.

However, there are several gaps in the events narrated by various party leaders, which conveys the feeling that all is not well in the Congress in the post-election period. Mr. Unnithan and Mr. Prasad had threatened to attend the executive meeting as they continued to be members of the KPCC executive. Mr. Chandy's action has come for some criticism from among some of the Antony group leaders, who have questioned the wisdom of arriving at an understanding with two persons who, they aver, were ordinary members. Whatever the allegations and counter-allegations, Mr. Unnithan and Mr. Prasad have succeeded in establishing the fact that the KPCC cannot escape a serious discussion on the electoral outcome. The two had launched a hunger strike when the KPCC leadership, controlled by Mr. Karunakaran, on the eve of the election, suspended them. They seem to have the active support of a section in the Congress who is for a change.

In any case, the incident has proved to be an embarrassment for the Chief Minister, who was expecting an open discussion on the electoral outcome, especially in the backdrop of the UDF meeting that virtually endorsed his leadership, though with suggestions for a change in the style of functioning.

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