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Kerala Cong rift deepens

New Delhi, Dec. 3: The simmering leadership crisis within the ruling Congress in Kerala may assume serious proportions in the next few days as rival factions loyal to A.K. Antony and K. Karunakaran prepare for a showdown.

Anticipating a fresh onslaught from the Karunakaran camp, chief minister Antony and his key followers rushed to the capital tonight to launch an uncharacteristic counter-attack.

Egged on by his supporters, a reluctant Antony is believed to have made up his mind to press the high command for sacking K. Muraleedharan as president of the PCC. Ahead of Antony’s arrival, two of his loyal ministers — K.V. Thomas and M.M. Hassan — met party chief Sonia Gandhi.

The ministers, sources said, have demanded the removal of Muraleedharan, as KPCC chief, and two pro-Karunakaran ministers — power minister Kadavur Shivadasan and health minister P. Shankaran.

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