P.C. George’s tirade against Congress threatens to break unity
The unprecedented situation created by the open challenge posed by Kerala Congress(M) leader and Government Chief Whip P.C. George to Congress leaders and the uncharacteristic restraint shown to his hostility by senior leaders of both the parties have put the ruling United Democratic Front (UDF) in limbo in the Central Travancore belt.
Almost the entire top leadership of the Congress, including Union Defence Minister A.K. Antony, has been at the receiving end of the KC(M) leader’s sharp comments and colloquial expressions in the past two years. However, no serious attempts have been made to restore decorum in the coalition, says a senior District Congress Committee (DCC) leader.
The worst response to Mr. George has come from Minister for Home Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, who said, “I am also a voter in the Kottayam Parliament constituency,” which, in effect, has sent a message of Congress backlash in the ensuing elections if Mr. George is not restrained.
Interestingly, Congress men are angrier at their own party leaders rather than on the KC(M) leadership for the faux pas, which is now threatening the semblance of unity that has existed in the UDF in the district.
More intriguing is the fact that the even the senior leadership of the KC(M) is in the dark as to why their leader K.M. Mani has failed to rein in Mr. George. The party, a conglomeration of three Kerala Congress factions, even today has not settled the internal feuds between those who have been originally with the KC(M), those who came into the party along with Mr. George (on October 11, 2009) and the last of the three to join the party, the faction led by P.J. Joseph, who joined seven months later (on May 27, 2010).
Even after so many years and an Assembly election, the fault lines are visible in the party and, in fact, this situation has helped Mr. George to gain the tactical support of the original KC(M) leaders in his fight.
“Yes, we gave him tactical support in his fight, but now things have gone too far,” says a senior KC(M) insider. Most of the leaders have supported Mr. Mani’s soft-pedalling of the issue so far. However, if the current situation is allowed to drift, the backlash from the Congress would be severe, he says. Many KC(M) workers believe their leader is caught between the proverbial devil and the deep sea.
“Unless he has other plans,” says the Congress party leader, who is suspicious of the move on the part of the KC(M) to launch an agitation on the K. Kasturirangan Committee report, which, he believes, has the potential to emerge as a common platform for the party, the Church, and the Communist Party of India (Marxist).
The party leadership is also unhappy with the recent interaction they had with the Congress high command as nothing substantial had come about. Now the ball is in Mr. Mani’s court. Whether he makes credible efforts to rein in his deputy would indicate as to which way politics in Central Kerala would move in the coming days.