Congress clinches seat deal with IUML, CMP

Thiruvananthapuram: Congress in Kerala, heading the United Democratic Front (UDF) on Wednesday reached an agreement with its major ally Indian Union Muslim League on seat-sharing, but problems continued with Kerala Congress-M and JSS.

In the bilateral talks held here today, Congress also struck a deal with Communist Marxist Party (CMP), allotting three seats to the party led by M V Raghavan. CMP state secretary K R Aravindakshan told reporters that Raghavan would contest from Azhikode in Kannur district.

However, Kannur DCC president P Ramakrishnan voiced resentment over the unilateral announcement by the CMP on the Azhikode seat.

An agreement eluded even after second round of talks with JSS headed by K R Gowri as the party insisted on its demand for five seats.

After the parleys, IUML leader P K Kunhalikutty said an agreement had been reached on the number of seats and the constituencies, but the details would be announced after the seat-sharing talks with other partners were over.

The demand of Kerala Congress-Mani that it should get 22 seats continued to be a major problem for the UDF. One more round of discussion is slated to be held with KC-M leaders later tonight.

Mani held that with the added strength after the merger with P J Joseph faction, his party deserved the number of seats it demanded.

The Congress leaders' talks with Kerala Congress-Jacob also remained inconclusive.

In the LDF, the lead partner CPI-M began parleys with CPI, which has been pressing for at least 30 seats.

Meanwhile, the CPI-M state committee concluded its two-day session without deliberating on the vital question on fielding Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan for the contest.

Party sources indicated that a decision on key candidates would be finalised next week after eliciting opinion from district units of the party.