Resentment over Sudheeran’s appointment brews
The Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee’s special convention in Kochi on Saturday will virtually launch the Congress campaign for the Lok Sabha elections in the State but the party leadership will find it difficult to hide the rancour caused by the manner in which the new PCC president, V.M. Sudheeran, had been installed.
Despite all the positive vibes that Mr. Sudheeran’s induction has generated, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy’s actions in the last few days, including his absence at a reception given to Congress president Sonia Gandhi during her stopover in Kochi en route to Lakshadweep, have been interpreted as a show of resentment.
Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala is also understood to have expressed his reservations at the manner in which the announcement had been made, though he has no issues about Mr. Sudheeran’s appointment.
Babaria meets Chandy
AICC secretary Deepak Babaria met Mr. Chandy to assuage him and later went on record stating that the AICC should have informed the State leadership prior to issuing a press release.
Moreover, the Chief Minister, it is believed, will get an opportunity to clarify matters when he meets Ms. Gandhi in Kochi on Saturday.
The special convention, which had been decided several weeks ago, will be attended by party functionaries from block Congress committee upwards and is intended as a show of strength ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.
The show of resentment is seen as an indication about the difficult time Mr. Sudheeran will have wading through factional loyalties that have coagulated into two distinct camps.
Mr. Sudheeran has already indicated that he will rather push forward to give the party a new work agenda. He has convened the party executive committee meeting and office-bearers’ meeting on February 19 at the party headquarters. He has also taken the initiative to convene the party-government coordination committee meeting, which will be held in Kollam on February 17. Kollam has been chosen as a venue since most of the members of the committee will be in station for the INTUC function.
Despite the election campaign to be launched by Ms. Gandhi, it is clear that the Congress has an uphill task in wrapping up the seat-sharing process as early as possible.
With a new KPCC president in office, talks are expected to resume by next weekend after the Congress meetings are over. The IUML had already stated that it did not plan to seek additional seat and was confident that the matter would be jointly discussed at the UDF and amicably settled. But the Kerala Congress (M) is firm on an additional seat in the Lok Sabha elections.
Ms. Gandhi arrived by a special aircraft at the naval air station in Kochi around noon on Friday en route to Lakshadweep to launch her party’s Lok Sabha poll campaign there. She was received at INS Garuda by Mr. Sudheeran, Mr. Chennithala, and UDF convener P.P. Thankachan. Mr. Chandy’s absence was conspicuous but his office confirmed he would be taking part in the party’s special convention, which would be addressed by Ms. Gandhi in Kochi on Saturday. A few minutes after arrival, Ms. Gandhi took off for Agathi in the Lakshadweep group of islands.