Thiruvananthapuram: AICC chief Sonia Gandhi will launch the party’s Lok Sabha poll campaign in Kerala at a special convention to be held in Kochi on February 15 even as the state Congress is yet to complete seat-sharing within the ruling UDF it heads.

Besides energising party functionaries as well as the rank and file for the crucial electoral battle, Gandhi is expected to put across the main themes over which the Congress is going to seek a fresh mandate in her address at the meet.

Gandhi will also address the national meet of INTUC at Kollam in south Kerala the same day.

According to sources, party leaders, various functionaries and special invitees would be gathering for the meet, which will take stock of the ground realities and come out with suggestions for preparing the party and the ruling coalition to take on the CPI(M) led LDF.

The convention also assumes significance since it is the first major event after V M Sudheeran took over as the KPCC president, replacing Ramesh Chennithala who joined the Oommen Chandy cabinet as Home Minister last month.

Though Sudheeran was handpicked by the High Command, overlooking suggestions of Chandy and Chennithala, his elevation has been welcomed largely by the rank and file cutting across factional lines.

It is evident from the reaction that the rank and file looked at Sudheeran as capable of galvanising the party ahead of the elections as a leader with a clean track record and firm determination.

In 2009, the Congress contested 17 of the 20 Lok Sabha seats in the state and won 13. Its allies Indian Union Muslim League bagged two seats and  the Kerala Congress (Mani) one, taking the UDF tally to 16.

The remaining four seats were bagged by the CPI(M) while its partner CPI drew a blank.

Congress is keen to contest all 17 seats this time also.

But the UDF constituent Socialist Janata Democratic, which broke away from LDF on the eve of last Lok Sabha polls, has staked claim  for one seat this time– Kozhikode or Wayanad, both held by the Congress.

Similarly, the Kerala Congress (M) is eyeing an additional seat, preferably Idukki, also won by Congress last time.

Soon after the convention, the Congress would be bilaterally and collectively holding discussions with the partners to settle these issues,sources said.

Though the BJP is not a force to reckon with in Kerala’s bipolar scenario, its Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi was in the state last week.

Addressing a big rally here, he blamed the UDF and LDF that have alternated in power as responsible for the problems of the state and said “God’s own country” was badly in need of a third alternative led by his party.

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