Will Congress Working Committee (CWC) member and Union Defence Minister A.K. Antony intervene to sort out problems in the Congress party in Kerala? The question is being debated in political circles now that the State leadership has not been able to find a middle way to navigate factional politics.
Even though the first salvo for Mr. Antony’s intervention was fired by P.C. George, who belongs to another party, the threads have been predictably picked up by Congress men for the kind of debate which Mr. Antony has been deliberately discouraging. Taking cue from Mr. George’s statement, Union Minister of State for Home Mullappally Ramachandran wanted Mr. Antony to shed his indifference with regard to the Congress politics in the State and intervene to sort out problems in the party.
Former president of the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) K. Muraleedharan, MLA, added to the debate by seeking Mr. Antony’s proactive involvement in State politics. Union Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi, responding to questions by mediapersons, said he did not think Mr. Antony was keen to return to State politics.
Mr. Antony has been maintaining a studied distance from State politics ever since Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president Ramesh Chennithala took over the reins of the leadership.
He has preferred to allow the two leaders to establish their respective domains in Congress politics in the State. There have been several occasions when Mr. Antony did not budge even when situations warranted his intervention.
The closest he has come to intervening in the Congress affairs is to get the induction of Mr. Chennithala in the United Democratic Front (UDF) government with a view to strengthening the hands of Mr. Chandy. His reluctance to intervene in Kerala politics has been interpreted as a tacit support to Mr. Chandy. But, there are no two opinions among Congress men that Mr. Antony continues to have the last word in party affairs in the State.
Some of the UDF partners, particularly the Indian Union Muslim League, have been urging the Congress high command to initiate a process to sort out the differences between Mr. Chennithala and Mr. Chandy. Congress general secretary in charge of Kerala Mukul Wasnik is all set to start the process from Friday by attending several crucial party meetings.