Emergency meeting on Wednesday to repair ties within UDF
The Kerala Congress(M) has launched a fire-fighting operation to undo the damage caused by its vice-chairman P.C. George’s scathing criticism of Congress leaders and end its isolation in the ruling United Democratic Front over the issue.
The party has called an emergency meeting of its steering committee in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday. The meeting will be held after a march to Raj Bhavan in protest against the falling price of rubber, one of the issues closest to the party in mobilising ground support. In other words, the day would be crucial for the party not only to settle its problems with the Congress but also to shore up its ground support.
The steering committee meeting is expected to deal with the vexed issue of taming Mr. George’s acerbic tongue. With Ministers from various coalition partners demanding that Mr. George be reined in, the party chairman, K.M. Mani, has found himself in a difficult position in the Cabinet.
More worrisome, however, is the threat of a Congress backlash in the party’s home turf, Kottayam, in the Lok Sabha elections — the first casualty in this case would be its Lok Sabha member, Jose K. Mani.
This truth, it appears, has dawned on the party leadership. Against this background, a top item on the agenda for Wednesday’s meeting would be reining in Mr. George. The party chairman is expected to receive all-round support in his attempt. The former Joseph faction members have expressed their bitterness to Mr. George’s stance, and Mr. Mani can bank on support from his own faction.
Another item on the agenda is expected to be the K. Kasturirangan report. The implementation of its recommendations will have an impact in areas populated by settler farmers, one of the crucial support bases for the party. The Catholic Church, another support base, has launched an agitation and campaign on the issue.
As such, the party finds it imperative to take a different course from that being followed by other coalition partners in this respect, it is pointed out.
The meeting will provide an occasion for the party to make its stance clear on the outcome of an all-party meeting called by the Chief Minister on the issue on Monday.