Girish Menon

Elections to booth panel end without much ado

Coming three phases will be difficult

Thiruvananthapuram: The Congress leadership in the State appears to be walking a tightrope to achieve consensus in the organisational elections which enter its next phases from next week.

The first phase election to booth committees went off without much trouble. The second phase on May 17 will witness elections to mandalam committees.

This will be followed by elections to block committees on May 22 and District Congress Committees on May 29.

According to senior leaders, the next three phases will be difficult as leaders spread over various levels of the party hierarchy will have to spend sleepless nights to iron out the differences and balance interests in terms of factional loyalties, communal equations, graduation to parent party and personal preferences of the current leadership. But the main concern, according to them, is in installing resident workers and leaders who will bear the burden of party work at their respective level.

Decades of factional politics have virtually made the grassroots unit dysfunctional. The party machinery revolves around the strength of factions in respective areas.

The incumbent leadership under Ramesh Chennithala and Oommen Chandy had to rebuild the party from scratch after the entire machinery was demolished by the debilitating split engineered by the veteran leader K. Karunakaran in 2006.

The last few years have witnessed fervent political work spread over booth, mandalam, block and district levels. Looking back, both these leaders can take some credit for bringing back the Congress to winning ways.

But the two leaders cannot claim to have succeeded in eradicating factions, falling prey to such kind of politics themselves in their attempts to retain control on the strings of power. The consensus arrangement will last long only if a free and fair accommodation is given to all sections, party leaders aver.

Mr. Karunakaran, who wrote to the party high command opposing the consensus move, touched a chord with large sections in the party who feel they have been given the short shrift. He has expressed concern that the consensus process will end up in match fixing by the incumbent leadership. The attempts at consensus are basically aimed at maintaining the status quo at the top.

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