Two panels looking into defeat in Idukki, Chalakudy

The two committees appointed by the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) to look into the reasons for the defeat of party candidates in Thrissur, Chalakudy, and Idukki is likely to find it difficult to present a fair report as party workers and leaders had blamed the Congress High Command in their depositions at the panel hearings.

Senior leader C.V. Padmarajan is heading the panel looking into the Thrissur and Chalakudy defeats, while P.M. Suresh Babu, KPCC general secretary, is probing the Idukki defeat. Leaders who deposed before the Padmarajan committee were of the opinion that the seat swapping in Thrissur and Chalakudy was not accepted by party workers. The high command bent over backwards to bring about the seat swap in favour of P.C. Chacko, whose ‘unpopularity rating’ was at its peak in the district. Since Mr. Chacko had succeeded in convincing the high command of his chances of victory from Chalakudy, the onus was on him to run the election campaign. Party leaders rejected Mr. Chacko’s contention that he did not get sufficient support from them and the election machinery.

In Idukki, the row over the implementation of the K. Kasturirangan committee on the eve of the elections only served to alienate the Catholic Church, which took a belligerent position against the Congress. The choice of Dean Kuriakose, known to be a protege of Chief Minister Oommen Chandy had been questioned, sources said.

Had the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government been more accommodative on the K. Kasturirangan report, the party would have been able to maintain a stable relation with the Catholic Church, which had consistently thrown its weight behind the Congress and the Kerala Congress in the high ranges, party sources said.

The row also affected the Chalakudy seat, going by the voting patterns in some of the Assembly segments dominated by the Catholic community.

The fallout of the election defeat seems to be devastating as the functioning of the District Congress Committees (DCC) in Idukki and Thrissur had been caught in a slanging match. In Idukki, the spat had been between Mr. Kuriakose and Roy Paulose, DCC president, while Mr.. Chacko had confronted Mr. Chandy and Ramesh Chennithala. The committees, sources said, would have to give its recommendations to the party leadership on steps to resolve the deadlock in these two DCCs.