The tug-of-war within the Congress on Monday scaled new levels leading to an open spat between Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president V.M. Sudheeran and former AICC secretary Shanimol Usman over a disciplinary action that the former took for certain remarks the latter had made at a KPCC executive meeting last month.

Mr. Sudheeran even went to the extent of stating that Ms. Usman’s strong reaction through a letter to him and its timing were part of a conspiracy to divert public attention, authored by certain sections in the party opposed to his strong stand on the liquor policy.

He said a three-member panel, with KPCC vice-president M.M. Hassan as convener, Lally Vincent, KPCC vice-president, and P.M. Suresh Babu, KPCC general secretary, as members, would inquire into the entire episode, including the circumstances that prompted Ms. Usman to make the remarks and the conspiracy angle, if any.

Mr. Sudheeran had issued a stern warning to Ms. Usman soon after the KPCC executive committee meeting on April 22. She had made certain adverse remarks linking the solar scam accused Saritha S. Nair and the party’s Alappuzha candidate K.C. Venugopal. Ms. Usman followed it up with a rather harsh letter on Monday questioning Mr. Sudheeran’s action of issuing her a warning and restraining her from having her say at the KPCC meeting. She wanted to know the rationale of Mr. Sudheeran’s action of endorsing media reports about her remarks.

Explaining his action, Mr. Sudheeran maintained that the timing of Ms. Usman’s letter should be read along with the barbs that had been directed against him in recent days for his uncompromising positions on the liquor policy. He said contemporary news reports had deliberately focused on three main issues depicting him as being isolated in the party and for imposing his views on others. These were totally baseless.

He said he would not budge an inch from his proclaimed positions.

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