Rival camp followers meet AICC general secretary Mukul Wasnik to present their claims
All India Congress Committee general secretary Mukul Wasnik, who is in charge of Kerala, got a taste of the factional politics in the Kerala unit of the Congress during his one-to-one talks with party leaders and legislators on Tuesday.
Supporters of Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president Ramesh Chennithala put the blame squarely on Chief Minister Oommen Chandy for the beating that the United Democratic Front government had got in recent days, attributing the loss of image to the near-anarchy in the functioning of his office. Mr. Chandy’s supporters, however, emphasised the need for unity in the party and rebutted the allegations against the Chief Minister.
Mr. Wasnik, on his first visit to Kerala after assuming charge, met Mr. Chandy, Congress leaders including V.M. Sudheeran, and party MLAs and office-bearers. The Chennithala faction alleged that the Chief Minister was working only in the interest of his faction and not for the party. The current crisis faced by the UDF government has its roots in the Chief Minister’s Office. If this situation were to continue, the party would have to suffer a massive defeat in the coming Lok Sabha elections, they pointed out.
The Chief Minister was involved in the process of the proposed Cabinet reshuffle with a view to keeping the communal balance in his team. The faction leaders who met Wasnik put the blame on the opposite camp for the controversy over the induction of Mr. Chennithala into the Chandy Cabinet. K Muraleedharan, Padmaja Venugopal, Joseph Vazhakkan, A.P. Anil Kumar, Sunny Joseph, and several other office-bearers close to Mr. Chennithala met Mr. Wasnik.
The Chandy supporters, however, made all-out efforts to keep out their factional propensities. They maintained that the Opposition allegations against the Chief Minister were baseless. There was no justification in the Opposition demand for Mr. Chandy’s resignation, they pointed out. They wanted the party to extend unconditional support to the Chief Minister and a stronger counter-measure to face the Opposition propaganda. The Kerala Yatra, undertaken by the KPCC president, was an eye-opener for the party and more such programmes should be organised to project the united face of the Congress party, they said. The leading lights who spoke up on behalf of the Chief Minister included Benny Behanan, M.M. Hassan, A.K. Mani, and other leaders.