Kerala

50 years on, Kerala Congress tries to redefine itself

The Kerala Congress (KC), the formation of which had changed the political colour of the State, has always been an enigma for many.

It has been castigated by both the Right and the Left, only to be embraced by both later on.

Its birth was dubbed as an emotional outpouring by a section of Congress men, but the party has been able to find a niche for itself in the political spectrum for the past 50 years.

Among the oldest regional political parties still active, the KC has, however, never been able to come to power on its own, or even lead a coalition, unlike other regional parties, giving credence to the criticism that it has never been able to emerge as a regional party but only be a political outfit feeding to the parochial interests of certain sections.

Farmers to mainstream

“Our greatest contribution has been that we could bring the farmer and his problems to the mainstream politics,” says K.M. Mani, Finance Minister and chairman of the KC(M).

R. Balakrishna Pillai, one of the founding members and first general secretary, too believes that it is the KC which gave the settler farming community a sense of security.

“The districts of Idukki and Pathanamthitta also owe their birth to the party,” he adds.

Mr. Pillai believes that the failure of the party to come to power on its own could be traced to the mindless splits it has to go through, “Mannthu Padmanbhan had called for the formation of a party which could take all sections of the people with it. However, with the first split when its founding chairman K.M. George was removed by the junior leaders of the time, the party lost its original character,” he says.

Costly decision

However, Mr. Mani believes that it was the party’s decision to stick with the United Democratic Front which cost it an opportunity to lead a ruling coalition. He recognises the fact that the footprints of both the KC and the Congress are increasingly merging, but believes that the party with its own ideology and programme would be able to keep its identity.

Communal forces

But Mr. Pillai thinks otherwise. “The rise of communal forces and the effort on the part of political parties to identify with them for political gain would cost them very dearly. This is what we have seen in Idukki. When the leaders of the community, with which the party has identified itself, shifted their allegiance, the whole edifice crumbled. I believe that after the age of senior leaders, who could hold the vote base of the factions, the party would be in deep trouble. It includes my party too,” he says.

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Printable version | May 16, 2021 12:22:46 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/50-years-on-kerala-congress-tries-to-redefine-itself/article6482669.ece

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