'Congress does not project CM candidate before Assembly polls'

Congress generally does not project any Chief Ministerial candidate before Assembly polls and this may also be the case in Kerala where elections are due next year, senior Congress leader and state Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala today said.

PTI| Updated: Oct 12, 2015, 16:14 PM IST

 Kochi: Congress generally does not project any Chief Ministerial candidate before Assembly polls and this may also be the case in Kerala where elections are due next year, senior Congress leader and state Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala today said.

 Chennithala, a prominent Hindu face of Congress in Kerala, said the Congress and the UDF government would "try to address if a perception" is created in the minds of the people by the BJP and Sangh Parivar that there is no adequate space for Hindus in both Congress and UDF in Kerala.

 "Congress, generally, won't project anyone as its chief minister candidate in any Assembly polls. The Congress Chief Ministers are chosen by the elected party MLAs after consulting with party high command. I believe that party will follow this pattern here also," the 59-year-old Congress leader, known for his close association with Nehru-Gandhi family, told PTI.

 Asked about the allegations by the BJP that the Congress and the UDF were catering only to the interests of minority Christian and Muslim communities in the state, Chennithala said, "We have tried to address such issues. We will try to address if there is a perception" (that majority Hindus are not getting their dues).

 The comments by former PCC Chief who heads powerful "I" faction in the state Congress assumes significance in the wake of BJP's increased efforts to constitute a third front by "wooing" various Hindu caste outfits in its fold.

 Besides there is also a move by backward Eazhava caste leader Vellappally Natesan to float a new political party ahead of the 2016 Assembly polls.

 In its efforts to make inroads in Kerala, BJP has sought to paint the ruling Congress-led UDF as a hub of political parties driven by interests of minority Muslims and Christian communities in the state.

 UDF, initiated by late Congress stalwart K Karunakaran, constitutes parties including Indian Union Muslim League -- a political offshoot of Kerala's powerful Sunni Muslims and Kerala Congress(M) -- a party with its base rooted in Christian vote bank concentrated in middle Kerala.

 Karunakaran was a long serving Chief Minister of Kerala and was followed by A K Antony and Oommen Chandy -- both belonging to Christian community.

Chennithala alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah were trying to "communally polarise" people of the state ahead of the Assembly polls.

 "They are trying to pollute secular mindset of people of Kerala. They are trying to influence caste and religious outfits to make inroads in the state. It is a dangerous attempt. But I am sure the people of Kerala will defeat their such mischievous attempts," he said.

 Asked about SNDP leader Natesan's efforts to bring Kerala's various Hindu castes under a single umbrella and float a political party, Chennithala said the followers of SNDP cannot associate with a "communal political party".

 The basis of Kerala's existing communal harmony is on the teachings of renowned social reformer Sree Narayana Guru, who founded the SNDP Yogam, and his contemporary saint Chattambi Swamikal, he said.

 "I don't think followers of Guru will join BJP fold," Chennithala added.

 The Congress leader said the efforts of Natesan would not "hurt" the UDF, "which is a strong and credible secular front" in the state.

 He also dismissed as "baseless" the CPI(M) politburo member Pinarayi Vijayan's allegations that Chief Minister Oommen Chandy was indirectly supporting the "activities of SNDP-RSS partnership" in Kerala.

 "No one can question the secular credentials of Congress leaders of Kerala," Chennithala added, while dismissing the allegations.