Kochi: A day after the Congress was drubbed in two of its "sure" seats-- Thrissur and Chalakudy--- its candidate K P Dhanapalan today said he was `forced` by the party leadership to contest from Thrissur and make way for AICC spokesperson, P C Chacko, to try his luck from Chalakudy.
"Pressure was put on me by senior leaders to shift my constituency from Chalakudy to Thrissur. I was forced to shift my constituency to make way for P C Chacko," a visibly emotional Dhanapalan told reporters.
The two seats were sure seats of the congress and the defeat of the party candidates in both to a certain extent was due to interchange of the constituencies, he said.
Dhanapalan, a sitting MP from Chalakudy, had begun his campaign work, when he was asked try his luck from Thrissur, the constituency held by Chacko, who had reportedly forced the leadership to shift him from Thrissur fearing group wars would harm his prospects.
"With tears, I pleaded to the leadership not to change me, to allow me to contest from Chalakudy. Lot of pressure was put on me," Dhanapalan said adding, the decision was taken not keeping in mind the pulse of the people.
Dhanapalan said he had nursed his constituency well. "I was called to Delhi and told by party leaders, including Mukul Wasnik, Ghulam Nabi Azad, A K Antony and many state leaders put pressure on me to contest from Thrissur."
"I love the party as my mother. So I agreed to contest from Thrissur even though I had told the high command that I was not keen to try my luck from Thrissur," he said.
Dhanapalan said the party leadership felt that if he
shifted to Thrissur, Congress could win both Chalakudy and Thrissur.
On his future course of action, Dhanapalan said he was in politics since the last 42 years and would continue to work for the party.
Asked if anyone had called him, he said KPCC President, V M Sudheeran had called him yesterday to say that he would win and he called me today expressing regret for my defeat.
Describing Chalakudy as Congress led UDF`s `fortress`, he said he had great respect for Chacko as he is a well-respected Parliamentarian.
Reacting to Dhanapalan`s outburst, Chacko, said he did not agree with his view that change of constituencies was the reason for the defeat of congress candidates in Thrissur and Chalakudy.
"Yesterday and today I have visited Chalakudy. None told me that Dhanapalan was made a scapegoat," he said.
"We had thought we both will win. Congress has lost sitting seats earlier. Former chief minister K Karunakaran had been earlier defeated from Thrissur. Others have lost from Chalakudy."
On whether he suspected any state committee member responsible for his defeat, Chacko said "I am not saying that anyone was responsible for defeat. Our party has been defeated. The reason for party`s defeat will be discussed in party fora and rectification measures taken."