Thiruvananthapuram, April 12 IANS | 7 months ago

The Left Front appears calm, while dissent is brewing in the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) in Kerala, just two days after the state voted to elect 20 Lok Sabha members.

Infighting and differences of opinion over ticket allotment are now coming to the fore within the Congress-led UDF, with the first salvo being fired by Kerala Congress (Mani) chief whip P.C. George.

"Congress candidates like Anto Antony at Pathanamthitta and M.I. Shahnawaz at Wayanad (both sitting members in the outgoing Lok Sabha) were wrong choices.

"The outcome in Thiruvananthapuram (Shashi Tharoor) and in Palakkad where M.P. Veerendra Kumar contested is just impossible to predict. I predict around a dozen seats. A few seats held by the UDF will just disappear," George, known for his razor sharp wit, told IANS.

Kerala Congress (Mani) is the UDF's third biggest ally.

Anto Antony responded strongly to George's comments, accusing the latter of working with the opposition Left.

"I have no doubt and I will easily romp home. It's only my detractors who fear that my seat will be lost. He (George) did his best to work along with our opposition and work against me," Anto Antony shot back.

George has a running feud with Anto Antony and with the Congress in Idukki district.

George's party had tried to wrest the Idukki Lok Sabha seat from the Congress but failed.

Faced with an onslaught from the Catholic Church on account of the Kasturirangan report on the Western Ghats, the Congress under duress was forced to ask sitting Lok Sabha member P.T. Thomas to make way for state Youth Congress president Dean Kuriakose in the constituency.

"All I did was to follow the stand of the national leadership on the Western Ghats issue. Initially, the top leadership of my party here did pay attention to what I was trying to impress upon them, but later they succumbed to pressure from the Kerala Congress (Mani) and also a section of my party leaders in Idukki. At the appropriate time, I will reveal more," a miffed Thomas told the media Saturday.

He is currently convalescing after undergoing an angioplasty.

In an attempt to contain the damage, state Congress president V.M. Sudheeran spoke to George after his outburst but did not reveal what had transpired between the two.

"I will not discuss it in public domain. The Congress is meeting on April 21 and 22 to assess the polls," Sudheeran told reporters here Saturday.

The Left leadership is taking this dissent within the Congress as a cue for the electoral downfall of the UDF and a rise in the LDF tally of seats.

According to Communist Party of India-Marxist state secretary Pinnarayi Vijayan, once the poll results come out, the UDF's disintegration would be complete.

Former CPI national general secretary A.B. Bardhan also expressed confidence that in Kerala, the Left will win 14 seats and that his party stands an excellent chance of winning in all the four seats that they contested as part of the Left Front.

In the outgoing Lok Sabha, the UDF has 16 while the LDF has four members. This time, the BJP too is hoping that the lotus will finally bloom in the southern state.

On Thursday, 74.04 percent of the 24 million-plus electorate in the state cast their votes to elect 20 Lok Sabha members. Even though past statistics say that whenever the polling percentage has crossed 73 percent, the UDF has swept the polls, the LDF maintains that this time round history would be re-written.

(Posted on 12-04-2014)

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