Attributes UDF’s recent setbacks to them

The Congress appears to be getting tough with some of its coalition partners, putting them in the dock for the recent controversies that have caused a setback to the United Democratic Front.

Congress leaders, including Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president Ramesh Chennithala, have been highlighting the problems that the UDF has had to face in recent months, all contributed by leaders of its coalition partners.

At the recent district conventions of the Congress, Mr. Chennithala, while stressing the need for unity in the UDF in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections, has pointed out that unlike in the past, the problems in the UDF have been the making of its coalition leaders, who have gone public on various issues.

In the past, the UDF faced one crisis after another owing to infighting within the Congress. This time, the Congress has been able to present a show of unity, though there may have been differences in perception about various issues.

The United Progressive Alliance at the Centre appears to be in a belligerent mood when it comes to tackling its allies, with the Congress making it clear that it will not bow to the pressure of smaller parties.

The UDF appears to be adopting the same stand in the State. The Ganesh-George stand-off, the K.R. Gouri-George verbal sparring, and the Communist Marxist Party’s hobnobbing with the Communist Party of India (Marxist) are some of the issues that have put the UDF on the back foot. The Janadhipathya Samrakshana Samithi has openly expressed dissatisfaction at the UDF leadership’s failure to get the Socialist Janata (Democratic) to give up some of the key slots allotted to it.

The UDF took one of its worst hits when Chief Minister Oommen Chandy was forced to drop K.B. Ganesh Kumar from the Cabinet when his marital discord threatened to tarnish the image of the coalition. Government Chief Whip P.C. George’s controversial statements too have added to the front’s woes.

Extra mile

Mr. Chennithala has claimed that the Congress has treated all its allies honourably, including those which did not have representation in the Assembly. The party has gone the extra mile to accommodate coalition partners, even sacrificing several key slots to keep them happy. According to the Congress leadership, the burden of putting up a good show in the upcoming elections is on the party as the leader of the coalition. The two other parties, the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) and the Kerala Congress (M), too have stakes in the Lok Sabha elections.

The Congress wants to capitalise on the current political situation that finds the CPI (M) struggling with a schism, and this will be possible only if the front puts up a united show.

Unfortunately, controversies one after the other have been a distraction, pinning down the Chandy government, sources said.

While taking a tough stand against the minor partners, the Congress leaders have been cautious not to rub the IUML leadership the wrong way. At one point, IUML leaders did not lose an opportunity to confront the Congress, but timely intervention by the leadership of the two parties prevented the situation from getting out of hand.

As far as the Kerala Congress (M) is concerned, the onus is on its leader K.M. Mani to control Mr. George from creating more controversies, the sources said.

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