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Cong-DIC(K) tie-up a non-starter

With the first phase barely two weeks away, the tie-up between the two does not appear to be taking off.

india Updated: Apr 08, 2006 13:02 IST

With the first phase of the Kerala assembly elections barely two weeks away, the poll alliance between once archrivals, the Oommen Chandy-led Congress and K Karunakaran's Democratic Indira Congress (DIC-K), does not appear to be taking off.

The once warring groups seem to be putting up a brave front, but the rank and file from both sides, it appears, will take some time to reconcile their differences. The manner in which Karunakaran reacted 12 hours after Congress emissary Veerappa Moily and DIC-K president K Muraleedharan reached an agreement has itself been an issue.

While Moily and state Congress president Ramesh Chennithala appeared upbeat in announcing DIC-K's imminent merger with the parent body after the polls, Karunakaran dropped a bombshell, saying that he was "unaware of any such deal".

"This alliance is a natural corollary to a belligerent stand taken by the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) whose position, they felt, would be shaky without Karuna's presence in the United Democratic Front (UDF), and it is no secret that in their (IUML's) domain, i.e. Malapppuram district, the old war horse (Karuna) is a force to reckon with," confides a disgruntled Congress leader.

Former chief minister AK Antony, who played a pivotal role in bringing the veteran back, said that he was never in favour of Karunakaran leaving the (Congress) party.

"It is but natural that many leaders in both the parties are still far from coming round to accepting the alliance. For the last twelve months, both the DIC-K and the Congress have been at war. The bruises will take time to heal," avers Antony.

And the scenes at the campaign venue in the state capital on Thursday evening seemed to show that the tie-up has failed to sink in.

There was lukewarm response from respective cadres when Chandy came to inaugurate the election meeting of one of his bitterest arch rivals, former Congress legislator Sobhana George who resigned as legislator last year to join Karunakaran's party.

George, a three-time legislator from the Chengannur constituency has dumped it for the Thiruvananthapuram West constituency and is locked in a fight with one of her former close aides Saratchandra Prasad, a senior local Congress leader and former Congress legislator, who is contesting as a rebel UDF candidate, protesting against the manner in which the seat was given to her.

The DIC-K is contesting 18 seats, including the one for which Muraleedharan is a candidate from Koduvally in Kozhikode district.

"Clearly, all is not well with the "patch-up". The general impression among impartial voters is that Chandy would have gained had he dumped DIC-K. Following this alliance, it is now clear that the Kerala chief minister, in order to wrest power, would go to any extent," said a bank official, who is least pleased with the alliance.

But the DIC-K leader KP Kunhikannan is hoping against hope that things would improve.

"Once the election fever picks up, there is going to be a change," said Kunhikannan, the closest aide of Muraleedharan.

While the Congress-Karunakaran alliance, to many, would appear to be failing to take off, the only glimmer for the UDF comes in the form of Left Democratic Front where too the picture is not rosy as the big brother Communist Party of India-Marxist has poached into the seats of six of its allies.

First Published: Apr 08, 2006 08:56 IST