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RSP blow to Kerala Left

Thiruvananthapuram, March 8: The Revolutionary Socialist Party today announced it was withdrawing from Kerala’s Left Democratic Front alliance, miffed at the CPM’s opposition to allotting it a seat for the Lok Sabha polls.

RSP state secretary A.A. Azeez told reporters after a meeting of the party state committee and secretariat that his party had not been taken into confidence on seat-sharing.

All deliberations had been between the CPM and the CPI, Azeez said, adding his party did not want to continue in the LDF after such humiliation.

Ruling out talks with the Left, Azeez said the RSP would not accept the Kollam seat even if it is offered now.

Instead, former MP N.K. Premachandran, who was also minister for water resources in the V.S. Achuthanandan government, would contest from Kollam on an RSP ticket.

He said the party was open to support from any quarter, including the ruling United Democratic Front, although no talks had begun yet.

What has upset the RSP is the CPM decision to field politburo member M.A. Baby from Kollam, one of the few seats where the RSP enjoys support among the fishing community.

RSP leaders had fiercely contested their case, but the CPM did not bend. There were rumours the RSP would be allotted Kottayam, but even that did not happen.

The CPM, however, said it had not announced the list of candidates and that it would do everything possible to ensure the RSP remains in the LDF.

Chief minister Oommen Chandy said the UDF would start discussions with the RSP if it quit the Left alliance. The Congress state president, V.M. Sudheeran, said he was not dismissing the possibility of talks with the RSP.

Kerala labour minister Shibu Baby John of the RSP splinter group, RSP(B), expressed optimism that all obstacles for the merger of the two factions had been removed.

The RSP decision comes as a damper for the Left Democratic Front which had been hoping to wean away some UDF allies over the uncertainty in implementation of the Kasturirangan report on protection of the Western Ghats.

UDF ally Kerala Congress, which draws its support from the Catholic church, wants exemptions for the state as it feels implementing the report in its entirety would displace hundreds of “farmers” who had settled on the hills and in areas close to eco-sensitive zones.

Supporters of the report say the fears are unfounded and that the only groups threatened are the illegal quarry and real estate lobbies operating in the Western Ghats.