Chennithala to intervene as faction feud takes a new turn

All hell broke loose in the Congress party on Thursday following the leak of a list of telephone calls made by solar scam accused Saritha S. Nair to the mobile phones of Congress Ministers and leaders. The leak gave a twist — for the worst — to the factional equations in the party, leading to accusations and counter-accusations about the possible sources.

It was left to Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president Ramesh Chennithala to agree to initiate a damage-control exercise at the end of the day when things seemed to be going out of hand for both the Chief Minster and the State unit of the Congress.

Trio to meet today

Accordingly, Mr. Chennithala, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, and United Democratic Front convener P.P. Thankachan will hold a meeting at the State Secretariat on Friday, presumably in the Chief Minister’s office, to sort out the issues.

The leaders are scheduled to meet at the Secretariat for discussions on erecting a statue of the late K. Karunakaran on the occasion of his 95th birth anniversary.

IUML’s strong views

The Indian Union Muslim League State secretariat’s strong views on the deteriorating faction feud in the Congress also appear to have prompted the Congress leadership to take the initiative to sink their differences.

The high point of Thursday’s development was the leak of two lists of phone calls made by Congress leaders. It is alleged that one set was released by the Chief Minister’s Office and the other by the Home Minister’s office.

With private television channels picking up the story, the party leadership went on the defensive. The prevaricating stance of Home Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan on the phone calls and his visit to the house of actor Shalu Menon, who is linked to one of the accused in the scam, Biju Radhakrishnan, made matters worse for the government and for the Home Minister himself.

The focus of the Left-sponsored agitation turned on to the Home Minister, with various Left feeder organisations staging black flag demonstrations against him.

The details of calls made from the mobile phones of Revenue Minister Adoor Prakash, Tourism Minister A.P. Anil Kumar, and the Home Minister to the mobiles of the accused was prominently displayed and debated on the channels, leading to considerable embarrassment to the government.

K.C. Joseph’s initiative

It was at this juncture that Information and Public Relations Minister K.C. Joseph made a hasty visit to the KPCC office here to request Mr. Chennithala to take the initiative to end the charade. It is not clear whether Mr. Joseph went on his own or as per the request of his mentor, the Chief Minister.

The firefighting has also been warranted by the fact that it would provide grist to the Opposition mill when the Assembly reconvenes on Monday. It would give three clear days for the Congress leadership to set everything in order.