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Karunakaran's party stakes claim to Congress seats

Girish Menon

In return, it will not insist on posts of local body chiefs


THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Democratic Indira Congress (DIC) (Karunakaran) has staked claims to the seats contested by the Congress in the last local bodies elections in its seat adjustment dialogues with Left parties. In return, it has agreed not to stake a claim to the posts of presiding officers of the local bodies, particularly district panchayats, municipalities, and corporations after the elections. Since this is an issue that has to be sorted out on the basis of the outcome, the party has decided not to dispute it and concede the ground despite the fact that the nature of alliance would have a bearing on the control over the local bodies.

The party is unlikely to get all the seats the Congress contested, but given its potential to spoil the party for the ruling UDF, it might still get away with the claim in those areas where the Congress has deeper roots.

The seat adjustment talks currently on between the DIC and the Left parties, particularly the CPI (M), speaks a lot about that party's long-term and short- term goals. It is conscious that the CPI (M) does not want to upset the current LDF structure and, therefore, is resigned to accept the local adjustments.

The aim of the DIC is to contest in as many seats as possible that are perceived to be winnable. Its proclaimed objective is to "finish off the Oommen Congress," but for this, it has to prove its popular base. Through its local electoral adjustments, the DIC hopes to emerge as an important factor to be considered for the expected realignment prior to the Assembly elections in May next year .

The party's seat negotiators have been given clear instructions not to get into disputes over seat sharing with the Left leaders during the talks. They have been asked not to bargain for a probable seat if the Left parties, particularly the CPI (M), have a better candidate. According to DIC president K. Muraleedharan, the talks are being held under the auspices of the LDF committees designated for this purpose.

At a press conference here on Thursday, Mr. Muraleedharan said that the party had not opened any discussions on the sharing of the posts of presiding officers. "We are contesting the elections to win it. Therefore, we are concentrating on getting winning seats, for which we have winners," he said. Mr. Muraleedharan also ruled out any adjustments with any of the UDF partners, including the IUML.

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