Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Monday turned up at the KPCC headquarters at Indira Bhavan here.
He was returning from a campaign tour in south Tamil Nadu. Congress candidate selection process and seat-sharing talks with UDF allies were on at the office when Mr. Gandhi arrived. He later caught a late-night flight to New Delhi from Thiruvananthapuram International Airport.
Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala said the KPCC had appraised Mr. Gandhi of the State’s political situation. Congress leaders also briefed him about campaign strategies and grassroots level election work. “We requested his presence in Kerala to catalyse the UDF campaign. The KPCC also wanted Priyanka Gandhi to campaign in the State,” he said.
Mr. Chennithala said Congress candidate selection and coalition seat allocation issues did not figure in the talks with Mr. Gandhi. The KPCC was focussed on organisational matters. The UDF hoped to finalise its seat-sharing arrangements on March 3. The AICC will take the final call on the list of Congress candidates later.
A party insider said talks with Kerala Congress (Joseph) had run into rough weather. Mr. Joseph has demanded 15 seats. KC(J) legislator Mons Joseph said the party was opposed to swapping sitting seats. Mr. Joseph was under treatment for COVID-19. He would take a final call in the matter.
He said the Congress aspired to contest in at least 90 seats or more. RSP has sought five seats. The UDF was yet to take a final call in the matter.
The RSP has informed the UDF that Shibu Baby John and Babu Divakaran would contest the Assembly elections from Chavara and Eravipuram in Kollam, respectively.
G. Devarajan of Forward Bloc was likely to face off Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in Dharmadam in Kannur.
The Congress has not taken any call on the possible candidature of KPCC president Mullappally Ramachandran. AICC general secretary Tariq Anwar had signalled the choice was Mr. Ramachandran’s. The UDF was also searching for a strong candidate to challenge K.B. Ganesh Kumar of the Kerala Congress (B) in Pathanapuram.