The absence of Chief Minister Oommen Chandy at the function in which newly appointed Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president V.M. Sudheeran assumed office on Tuesday was quite conspicuous, adding grist to the speculation about his opposition to the latter’s induction. Even though Mr. Sudheeran and Mr. Chandy went to great length to explain the situation, there was a near unanimity among Congress workers that it was uncharacteristic of the Chief Minister not to be present at the most important function of the day and that he had expressed his resentment at the party high command’s decision in his own inimitable style. There were news reports that Mr. Chandy was not happy with the high command’s decision to induct Mr. Sudheeran, who had been constantly opposing several development projects of the United Democratic Front (UDF) government.

Mr. Sudheeran, at his press conference, said Mr. Chandy had informed him about the long list of meetings he had convened for the day, besides expressing doubts about making it on time for the function. He maintained that the Chief Minister had showed him the schedule for the day. Party leaders and workers who attended the function expected the Chief Minister to make his customary last minute entry, but then the expected did not happen, leading to talk about the possible differences between the new KPCC president and the Congress Legislature Party leader. Mr. Chandy touched down on the KPCC headquarters at 1.45 p.m. and held discussions with Mr. Sudheeran and V.D. Satheesan.

When asked about his absence, Mr. Chandy commented that his late arrival had deprived television channels of the chances of breaking news.