Amid negotiations, UDF releases slogan

On Wednesday, the United Democratic Front (UDF) sounded its rallying cry for a successful Assembly election campaign. Its electioneering slogan roughly translates as “UDF for Kerala’s Advancement.” The Opposition posited the motto as a catchy counter to the ruling front’s legend ‘For sure it’s LDF’.

Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala said the UDF mantra would resonate among ‘voters tired of LDF’s corruption and entrenched criminality.’ UDF leaders presented a picture of solidarity at the tagline release. However, the affability seemed to barely hide the strain of days of hard bargaining between Congress and its allies over sharing of seats. Mr. Chennithala, State Congress chief Mullappally Ramachandran, former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, Indian Union Muslim League and Kerala Congress (P.J. Joseph faction) leaders had broken off from marathon seat-sharing talks to release the UDF logo.

12 seats sought

From the Congress point of view, Mr. Joseph’s insistence on a higher representation in the Kottayam district has proven an obstacle for a speedy seat-sharing accord. He has demanded 12 seats. The Congress has no dispute with his faction regarding Thiruvalla, Irinjalakuda, Thodupuzha, Idukki, and Kothamangalam. The party is also willing to give Perambra to Mr. Joseph. However, he has reportedly staked a claim for Poonjar, Kanjirappally, Ettumanur and Muvattupuzha. The Congress is hard-pressed to cede these segments due to pressure from local party workers. In Muvattupuzha, the Youth Congress had protested against the move to grant the constituency to Mr. Joseph.

The Congress is likely to field least 14 women. The party’s election committee, which met here on Tuesday, voted against fielding sitting MPs. Senior leaders V.M. Sudheeran, P.J. Kurien and P. C. Chacko will not contest. Youngsters stand a higher chance of landing tickets.

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