The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sangh salt in Cong Kerala wounds

New Delhi, March 27: A year before state elections, the Congress in Kerala is grappling with intense dissidence, which has been compounded by an RSS disclosure about a senior leader.

As K. Karunakaran pushed the party to the brink of a split with parallel rallies and committees, RSS chief K.S. Sudarshan told an English weekly that Vayalar Ravi had visited the Sangh headquarters in Nagpur seeking help in the 2000 Assembly polls.

The Congress swept the polls in 2000 but drew a blank in last year's Lok Sabha polls in the state.

Karunakaran's son yesterday demanded an explanation from the Congress leadership about Sudarshan's disclosure. K. Muralidharan was suspended from the party a fortnight ago for holding parallel rallies.

With the official Congress holding a regional rally in Kochi yesterday to counter the rebels, rapprochement appears unlikely.

The Karunakaran faction has not only set up five parallel district committees but is also preparing to split the party in a month, a source close to him said, unless the high command replaces Oommen Chandy as chief minister. A whisper campaign against Chandy along communal lines has added to the high command's woes.

His immediate predecessor, A.K. Antony, who acquired the sobriquet 'saint', had taken a tough stand on minorities' 'pressure politics', especially the Muslim League.

But Chandy, a Christian like Antony, is perceived as 'indulging' the minorities and giving a long rope to the League's P.K. Kunhalikutty, who had to quit the ministry in the wake of a sex scandal. Chandy also wants to call Karunakaran's bluff to permanently end the recurring dissidence, unlike his predecessor who was soft on the party veteran.

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