Kerala poll results along with those of other states will mark the beginning of the Congress’ comeback nationally & its return to Delhi in 2024, former Kerala chief minister Oommen Chandy said on Wednesday.
Oommen Chandy, who is among the top contenders to be the chief minister if the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) gets a majority in the Kerala polls, said there would be “no problem” in the selection of the CM after the polls if voted to power and the high command’s decision in the matter would be acceptable to all the leaders.
In a telephonic interview with PTI, Oommen Chandy also asserted that the BJP would remain a marginal player in the polls like last time when it had won just one seat.
Expressing confidence that the UDF would come to power, Chandy said the Left Democratic Front in the last assembly elections made so many promises but could not fulfil any of them, & asserted that the people can see the difference between the LDF & the UDF.
“The slogan of UDF is development & care, development of state & care stands for special attention to the weaker sections. We fulfilled our promises (when in government),” said Chandy, who was the chief minister from August 2004 to May 2006 and then from May 2011 to May 2016.
Left Democratic Front made so many allegations against the previous UDF government, claiming that there was a lot of corruption, but in the last 5 years they could not do anything or proceed in a single case, he asserted.
Oommen Chandy said the UDF was not afraid of the BJP & was fighting it with full might.
Pointing to an alleged Left-BJP collusion, Mr Oommen Chandy said they are fighting each other in front of the public but their fight is with the common aim of defeating the Congress.
“There is a strong rumour that they have a secret arrangement to defeat the Congress,” said Mr Chandy.
On the entry of ‘Metroman’ E Sreedharan on the side of the BJP, he said Sreedharan is a “good person & a very good technocrat”, but his decision to enter the political fray was “not correct”.
Asked about the importance of the Kerala polls from the national perspective, Mr Chandy said this election along with assembly polls in other states will mark the beginning of the Congress’ return to Delhi in 2024.
“We expect encouraging results,” he said, asserting that this would be the beginning of the “coming back of the Congress in India”.
Campaigning for assembly polls are on in Kerala, Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu & Puducherry. Counting of votes for all of them would take place on May 2. The next general election is scheduled in 2024.
On the UDF not announcing a chief ministerial (CM) face, Mr. Chandy said as a practise, the Congress does not announce a CM face in advance.
“The high command has its own way to decide (after the polls), that is not a problem at all,” said the 77-year-old veteran Congress leader, who is himself contesting from Puthuppally & is also on the campaign trail holding rallies and road shows in support of UDF candidates.
That is the procedure, the high command decides after the polls in consultation with the elected member,” Oomen Chandy said.
Asked if he was ready to be chief minister again, Chandy said, “I cannot say anything about that, it is upto the high command to decide. One thing I can say is that there will not be any problem regarding the selection of the CM after the elections” if the UDF gets a majority.
On whether the decision of the high command will be acceptable to all Congress leaders in the state, Mr. Chandy said everybody will accept it and reiterated that there will not be any problem.
Oommen Chandy also said there was no political significance of the Ten-member election management committee, whose chairman he was appointed recently, & asserted that it was not connected with what happens after elections.
Committee is for the joint management of the election by a collective leadership, he asserted.
Oommen Chandy’s remarks come days after veteran Congress leader and former Defence Minister A K Antony had said that no assurance had been given to anyone regarding the top post of Chief Minister & a unanimous decision would be taken in this regard post elections.
Ahead of Oommen Chandy’s appointment as chairman of the election management panel, the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) & RSP, both coalition partners of the front, had, after the UDF’s lacklustre performance during the recent local body polls, come out openly to suggest that Oommen Chandy should be brought back to the forefront and given more responsibility.
Speculations were high when Chandy was projected as the face of the party & front though senior leader Ramesh Chennithala had been leading it in the state Assembly in the last 5 years as the leader of opposition.
However, the party leadership had set aside all rumours & said its present focus was on ensuring the UDF’s victory in the polls and any other decision would be taken after the elections.
Kerala goes to polls to elect members of its 140-member assembly on April 6. Counting of votes will take place on May 2 along with that of Tamil Nadu, Assam, West Bengal and Puducherry polls.