Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday told leaders from the party’s Kerala unit that they should bury their differences ahead of Assembly polls in the state and present a united front to the opposition parties, saying “CPI(M) cannot defeat Congress, only the Congress can defeat Congress”. Rahul Gandhi was speaking at the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee’s (KPCC) executive meeting in the state capital Thiruvananthapuram.

“The Congress is like a family and can fight (within), but it should not be done (now) as elections are around the corner,” Rahul said. “Only the Congress can defeat the Congress in Kerala. The CPI-M can never do that. Each and every party leader here is hugely talented. While everyone has lots of positives, they have negatives too. You have to stand together. If you are able to do that, the UDF (United Democratic Front) government will return to power,” he added. Rahul’s words came following reports of a feud within the party’s state unit. “You should stand together. After the elections, I will come back and hear all what you have to say,” he said.

During the meeting, state leaders strongly advised against forming any poll alliance with the CPI (M), arguing that the Left outfit was “undependable” and blaming the CPI (M) of resorting to the politics of violence. Rahul, however, did not comment on the issue, though he gave clear signals to party leaders to put an end to the infighting.

KPCC president V.M. Sudheeran and vice-president M.M. Hassan attacked the CPI (M) in their speech. Sudheeran reminded the members present that the CPI (M) in Bihar had formed a third front to fight against the Grand Alliance. That front “divided the secular votes and actually enabled BJP to win some of the seats”.

Hassan also urged Rahul Gandhi not to form an alliance with Left parties in Kerala, saying that “CPI-M is an undependable party. Their fight against Communalism is not sincere”. He further alleged that the “CPI-M is a party of opportunists”.

Other senior members who were present at the meeting include former Defence Minister and Congress Working Committee member A.K. Antony, Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and AICC general secretary in-charge of Kerala Mukul Wasnik.

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