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Gehlot-led AICC team to mull Cong prospects in Kerala polls

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Thiruvananthapuram, Jan 22 (IANS) A three-member committee set up by the AICC will hold discussions on Friday evening and Saturday with state leaders on the prospects of the Congress as well as the United Democratic Front in the 2021 Assembly elections.

Led by Rajasthan Chief minister Ashok Gehlot, the team constituted by the All India Congress Committee comprises former Goa Chief Minister Luizinho Faleiro and former Karnataka Deputy CM G Parameshwara.

While Falerio and Parameshwara have already arrived in the state capital, Gehlot will reach here on Friday evening, accompanied by AICC General Secretary (Organisation) KC Venugopal. The meeting will be held thereafter.

Falerio and Parameshwara have already met with the ‘big three’ in the state Congress — KPCC President Mullappaly Ramachandran, former Chief minister Oomen Chandy, and opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala.

KPCC General Secretary Manacadu Suresh told IANS: “Both Felerio and Parameshwara are here and meeting all senior state leaders. They will make a small presentation when Gehlot and Venugopal reach here by evening.”

While an informal meeting will be held after the arrival of the two senior leaders, a series of meeting are slated on Saturday to discuss the prospective party candidates in the Assembly elections likely to be held in May 2021 to elect 140 MLAs.

As Congress Working Committee member and former Kerala Chief Minister AK Antony has openly called for fielding “new faces”, the Congress will be forced to choose several youth leaders for party tickets. Gehlot and his team will have a close look at the strengths and limitations of the new faces proposed to be fielded by the state leadership.

KPCC chief Ramachandran told IANS: “There will be an open meeting between AICC observers and the state leaders’ team. We will discuss the election strategy, pros and cons of fielding new candidates, relations with coalition partners, and finances for the polls. All team members are senior politicians and we will make use of their vast experience and expertise in the run-up to the polls.”

The Congress contested 87 seats in 2016 elections but won only 22, while its United Democratic Front partner Indian Union Muslim League contested 25 seats and won 18.

In the 2021 polls, the Congress is likely to contest 95 Assembly seats and is hoping to lead in 27 of them. The UDF will give two seats to the Communist Marxist Party (CMP), which has been with the UDF since its formation. Forward Block will get one seat while Kerala Congress splinter group led by PJ Joseph will get 7 to 9 seats to contest.

–IANS

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