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Ramesh Chennithala is KPCC president

Special Correspondent

"No question of Congress taking a soft approach towards Left"

NEW DELHI: The Congress on Friday appointed former Lok Sabha member and permanent invitee to the party's working committee Ramesh Chennithala as Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president. A foregone conclusion for nearly a week now, he took charge on Friday morning just ahead of a Thiruvananthapuram court stay on his appointment as KPCC president.

The Congress formally announced the decision at its routine briefing in the afternoon. Asked about a stay order, party spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan said she was not aware of any such development. Likewise was her response to questions on whether the party had timed his takeover in anticipation of such a stay from the court.

Soon after taking charge, Mr. Chennithala met the former Chief Minister A. K. Antony and outgoing KPCC president Thennala Balakrishna Pillai. He also spoke to Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on the telephone and is awaiting his arrival in the Capital on Sunday evening to firm up a view on the list of KPCC office-bearers.

Talking to reporters, the new KPCC president said there was no question of the Congress under him in Kerala taking a soft approach towards the Left in view of the coalition at the Centre. True to his words, the latest issue of the party organ, `Congress Sandesh' — circulated at the press conference on Friday — included an article `The Leftist Contradictions' in which he takes on the Left. This is the third in a series of articles against the Left that he has written for `Congress Sandesh' in recent months.

As to what his approach would be towards the National Congress (Indira) — floated by K. Karunakaran who was Mr. Chennithala's mentor till they parted ways for the younger leader to form his own group within the State unit — the KPCC president's reply was: "My first effort will be to bring back the workers. The NC(I) is a temporary phenomenon.''

Mr. Chennithala described his new charge as his biggest challenge ever.

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