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MENAFN - Khaleej Times - 16/02/2014
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(MENAFN -Khaleej Times) Party chief warns Kerala Congressmen over nomination of party's state president

Taking note of the resentment among the two dominant factions in the Kerala unit of the party over the appointment of V M Sudheeran as the state chief, Congress all-India president Sonia Gandhi asked the partymen to shun factionalism and prepare for the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections.

She was kicking off the party’s poll campaign in the state at a special convention at Cochin on Saturday. She took off from Sudheeran’s warning in his welcome speech that factionalism had penetrated the state unit of the party.

Sudheeran was picked up by the party high command to succeed Ramesh Chennithala as Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president following his induction in the state cabinet as minister for home because of the senior leader’s clean image and non-involvement in any groups. However, both the groups led by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and Ramesh did not like the idea. The former openly expressed his displeasure by not only skipping the new party chief’s installation ceremony and reception but also keeping off the welcome accorded to Gandhi on her arrival at the Cochin airport on Friday.

In what is seen as a clear message to the detractors of Sudheeran, Gandhi said she had only one group and that was the Congress. “We are all Congressmen. We will fight the electoral battle as one group and win the election,” she added.

Without naming the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Gandhi said her party’s principal opponents were trying to divide the country that the Congress kept united all these years. “2014 election is not about achievements but about what kind of India you want.”

“The idea of secular India is under threat by those who don’t just seek to rule but to change India’s very heart and soul. We want unity, they want uniformity. Our idea joins India together, their divides,” Gandhi said.

Gandhi also mounted a frontal attack on the party’s main opponent in Kerala, saying the Communists were blocking all developmental activities.

The Congress chief asked what the Communists had done for the poor. She also accused the Communist Party of India - Marxist (CPM) of pursuing politics of violence. “We solve difference through dialogues and discussions whereas the CPM does it through murders and killing,” she said indirectly referring to the brutal murder of Marxist rebel leader T P Chandrashekharan by a gang allegedly hired by the CPM.

Earlier launching the “Nirbhaya Kerala Surakshita Kerala” project of the party-led government, Gandhi, who is also the chairperson of the United Progressive Alliance, regretted that the Women’s Reservation Bill has not been able to be passed in the Lok Sabha for lack of consensus.

“With the Lok Sabha elections looming large, my greatest regret is that the Women Reservation Bill approved by the Rajya Sabha could not be passed in the Lok Sabha. We will continue our efforts to get the bill passed,” she added.

Terming Kerala as a model for securing women, she urged the party-led government to double the representation of women in the state police from the present five per cent and to 25 per cent in the next five years.

The Congress president later addressed the national meet of the Indian National Trade Union Congress, the trade union wing of the party, at Quilon. She also held one-to-one discussion with senior Congress leaders and leaders of the party’s constituents in the UDF before returning to Delhi.


Khaleej Times

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