The ascent of Sudheeran, who has a strong stance on Idukki seat and the Ghats report, may put KC(M) in a fix.
The change of guard at the Congress helm has put the United Democratic Front (UDF) ally, Kerala Congress (M), in a tight political spot.
In spite of being the second largest partner in the ruling coalition, the party had found it difficult to assert itself due to open mudslinging between two of its major factions. The protracted factional fight had reached its zenith when P.C. George, party vice president, openly forfeited the party’s right to have a second Parliament seat in the coming elections. The squabble that followed resulted in the deterioration of the party’s relationship with the coalition partner in Idukki, which was earlier represented by KC(M) leader Francis George, but is currently occupied by Congress’s P.T. Thomas. The strife worsened when the Catholic Church-led agitation against the implementation of the K. Kasturirangan Committee recommendations faced confrontation from the sitting MP.
With pressure mounting, the party had to buttress its stance and give an ultimatum to the Congress leadership to take necessary steps to amend the relevant provisions of the Union government notification of November 13, 2013, which, if implemented, would bring 123 villages under the ecologically sensitive area (ESA).
The latest round of discussions with the Chief Minister has been scheduled for Wednesday. On both these issues — the second Parliament seat for the party, preferably Idukki, and the Kasturirangan report — the party leadership had hoped to benefit from their already developed working relationship with Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and the former Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president Ramesh Chennithala.
Many now believe that the ascent of V.M. Sudheeran, who has a strong stance on these issues, would make things more difficult. While the issue of additional seat could be settled politically, they are more concerned about the Kasturirangan report recommendations where the new KPCC president had openly expressed his support for the environmentalists. This has put the party in a difficult situation and any hardening of the stance on the part of the Congress leadership that might weaken the KC(M)’s position could put further strain on the relationship, they fear.