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Antony asks senior Kerala Congress leaders to bury the hatchet

New Delhi: Senior Congress leader A K Antony on Friday expressed displeasure over the ‘rift’ among top party leaders in the Kerala unit and told them to be ready to make compromises for strengthening the party’s grass root base.

Former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, KPCC President V M Sudheeran and Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Ramesh Chennithala should be ready to compromise for the party’s growth, Antony said addressing a function organised to commemorate the 6th death anniversary of K Karunakaran at the KPCC office here.”The desire of myself and party high command is that Chandy, Chennithala and Sudheeran lead the party together,” he said at the function in which Sudheeran was among those present.

The remarks of Antony, a senior Congress Working Committee member, assume significance as they come in the backdrop of differences among top leaders over recent selection of new DCC presidents.

Apparently unhappy over the selection of new DCC chiefs, Chandy has been keeping away from party meetings. Antony, also a former chief Minister of the state, said he and Karunakaran had reached agreements on several party issues even though they had differences.

“We continued to lead the party for 31 years as friends and rivals,” he said. Stating that party as in 1967 was passing through a difficult time, he said the main focus of the party leaders should be to widen its grass root base.

The former defence minister also said there were several positive factors such as the “failure” of CPI-M led LDF government of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Narendra Modi government in the centre for the growth of party.

Referring to the party affairs in the state, he said in defence parlance ‘there are generals, Officers in the party. But no artillery… That situation has to be changed.’ Leaders should be able to take the entire party together, Antony said adding it was difficult to have a generational shift in leadership. Antony said party workers should take up people’s issues and ‘should be ready even to go to jail’ for public cause.

Besides skipping party meetings, Chandy had also abstained from attending the agitation organised by the Congress-led UDF in Delhi recently on demonetization, even as party leaders said his absence was due to some personal inconvenience. Chennithala had already indicated that there was differences among party leaders in Kerala over appointment of new DCC Presidents and he too was unhappy.