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Talks on with coalition partners, says Murali

Staff Reporter

Panchayat elections to be an acid test for faction

KOTTAYAM: The expelled Congress leader K. Muraleedharan has said that talks are progressing with United Democratic Front (UDF) partners who are dissatisfied with the present coalition leadership.

Talking to presspersons who met him at Malliyoor Sri Mahaganapthy Temple, near here on Friday, the beleaguered former KPCC president dropped clear hints that the focus of the future course of action would be the panchayat elections scheduled for September.

The aspirations of common party workers would be paramount while deciding on the future course of action, he said. Such decisions would not be based on the interests of the MLAs. He said the focus would be to ensure the victory of common party workers in the local bodies elections.

In addition to the dissatisfied UDF leaders, support of leaders like P.C. Thomas of the Indian Federal Democratic Party (IFDP) could be considered, if he was ready to come out of the coalition, he said.

Mr. Muraleedharan said that he would not appeal to the authorities to reconsider his ouster. Coordination committees were formed at the district-level for effective functioning during organisational elections. However, these were dubbed as parallel bodies and disciplinary action was initiated against me, he said. His ouster was ``undemocratic'' and against the constitution of the party. He ruled out any scope for reunification now.

According to Mr. Muraleedharan, the goodwill earned by the Congress party was highjacked by certain people and they were trying to augment their support through patronage of MLAs. Such actions would bring rift between local interests and national leadership in the long run.

He would take up the interests of local workers and such a style would be recognised and appreciated by more Congressmen, he said.

When asked whether his sister Padmaja Venugopal would be present at the May 1 convention scheduled in Thrissur, Mr. Muraleedharan said he was not in a position to predict who all will be there. To another question, he said the regional rally organised by the official group in Thiruvananthapuram too was in effect a factional show of strength, going by the slogans raised during the march.

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