Results of assembly polls to mark beginning of Cong’s return to Delhi in 2024: Oommen Chandy

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New Delhi, March 31 (PTI): The Kerala poll results along with those of other states will mark the beginning of the Congress’ comeback nationally and its return to Delhi in 2024, former Kerala chief minister Oommen Chandy said on Wednesday.

Chandy, who is among the top contenders to be the chief minister if the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) gets a majority in the Kerala polls, said there would be “no problem” in the selection of the CM after the polls if voted to power and the high command’s decision in the matter would be acceptable to all the leaders.

In a telephonic interview with PTI, the former Kerala chief minister also asserted that the BJP would remain a marginal player in the polls like last time when it had won just one seat.

Expressing confidence that the UDF would come to power, Chandy said the Left Democratic Front (LDF) in the last assembly elections made so many promises but could not fulfil any of them, and asserted that the people can see the difference between the LDF and the UDF.

“The slogan of UDF is development and care, development of state and care stands for special attention to the weaker sections. We fulfilled our promises (when in government),” said Chandy, who was the chief minister from August 2004 to May 2006 and then from May 2011 to May 2016.

The LDF made so many allegations against the previous UDF government, claiming that there was a lot of corruption, but in the last five years they could not do anything or proceed in a single case, he asserted.

Chandy said the UDF was not afraid of the BJP and was fighting it with full might.

Pointing to an alleged Left-BJP collusion, he said they are fighting each other in front of the public but their fight is with the common aim of defeating the Congress.

“There is a strong rumour that they have a secret arrangement to defeat the Congress,” said Chandy.

On the entry of ‘Metroman’ E Sreedharan on the side of the BJP, he said Sreedharan is a “good person and a very good technocrat”, but his decision to enter the political fray was “not correct”.

Asked about the importance of the Kerala polls from the national perspective, Chandy said this election along with assembly polls in other states will mark the beginning of the Congress’ return to Delhi in 2024.

“We expect encouraging results (from all the states),” he said, asserting that this would be the beginning of the “coming back of the Congress in India”.

Campaigning for assembly polls are on in Kerala, Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. Counting of votes for all of them would take place on May 2. The next general election is scheduled in 2024.

On the UDF not announcing a chief ministerial face, Chandy said as a practise, the Congress does not announce a CM face in advance.

“The high command has its own way to decide (after the polls), that is not a problem at all,” said the 77-year-old veteran Congress leader,  who is himself contesting from Puthuppally and is also on the campaign trail holding rallies and road shows in support of UDF candidates.

“That is the procedure, the high command decides after the polls in consultation with the elected member,” the Congress general secretary said.

Asked if he was ready to be chief minister again, Chandy said, “I cannot say anything about that, it is upto the high command to decide. One thing I can say is that there will not be any problem regarding the selection of the CM after the elections” if the UDF gets a majority.

On whether the decision of the high command will be acceptable to all Congress leaders in the state, Chandy said everybody will accept it and reiterated that there will not be any problem.

Chandy also said there was no political significance of the 10-member election management committee, whose chairman he was appointed recently, and asserted that it was not connected with what happens after elections.

The committee is for the joint management of the election by a collective leadership, he asserted.

Chandy’s remarks come days after veteran Congress leader and former defence minister A K Antony had said the no assurance had been given to anyone regarding the top post of CM and a unanimous decision would be taken in this regard post elections.

Ahead of Chandy’s appointment as chairman of the election management panel, the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) and RSP, both coalition partners of the front, had, after the UDF’s lacklustre performance during the recent local body polls, come out openly to suggest that Chandy should be brought back to the forefront and given more responsibility.

Speculations were high when Chandy was projected as the face of the party and front though senior leader Ramesh Chennithala had been leading it in the state Assembly in the last five years as the leader of opposition.

However, the party leadership had set aside all rumours and said its present focus was on ensuring the UDF’s victory in the polls and any other decision would be taken after the elections.

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