Kerala elections: UDF will decide its Chief Minister after polling on 6 April, says AK Antony

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi speaks during an election campaign rally ahead of Kerala assembly elections (PTI)

The Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) will decide its chief minister after the 6 April assembly polls, said veteran party leader and former defence minister AK Antony on Monday.

“The UDF will take a decision on its chief minister after the assembly elections. A unanimous decision will emerge then,” Antony said on a television channel.

He stated that no assurance has been given to any candidate regarding the top post.

The veteran leader’s reaction assumes significance in the wake of former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy being entrusted with the task of leading the Congress-led opposition front in the crucial assembly polls by the party high command recently.

A 10-member Election Management and Strategy committee, with Chandy as its Chairman, had been approved by Congress President Sonia Gandhi in January.

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.

When asked about his political plans, Antony said he had already ended electoral politics in 2004 and would put an end to parliamentary politics by 2022 with the completion of his Rajya Sabha tenure.

Unleashing a scathing attack on Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, the Congress leader said the CPI(M) in Kerala has been limited to just Vijayan now and in a democracy, there should not be a leader who is unquestionable.

He said it was better for Vijayan to sit on the opposition bench for the next five years so that he would be in a position to be questioned over his past rule.

Expressing confidence about the victory of Congress nominee K Muraleedharan at Nemom, the lone BJP seat in the state Assembly, Antony said it was not a stronghold of the saffron party.

BJP veteran O Rajagopal had won the Nemom segment in 2016 Assembly polls due to the sympathy of the voters towards the candidate as he had repeatedly failed in several previous polls, he added.

Elections in all 14 districts of Kerala would be held in a single phase on 6 April.

In its manifesto, the Congress-led UDF has promised a 2,000 ‘pension’ for homemakers, 72,000 annually to the poor under ‘Nyay Yojana’ and five lakh homes for the underprivileged.

With inputs from agencies.

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