Kerala

AICC plots new political course for State

A galaxy of top national leaders met here on Saturday to plot a definitive political course to help the State-unit of the Congress shrug off its organisational sluggishness and win the Assembly elections in April.

The import of the All India Congress Committee's (AICC) message to the State unit seemed clear.

Including acceptability and factoring caste, communal, gender and age demographic trends in candidate selection would pave the way for victory. So would building bridges with community leaders, social organisations and other influencers. Factional loyalty would not inform candidate selection henceforth.

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, AICC general secretaries Tariq Anwar and K.C. Venugopal, reportedly conveyed the message to MLAs, MPs and Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee leaders during marathon meetings at the Indira Bhavan here.

The presence of the top officers also indicated that the AICC held the State-unit in a vice-like grip. The national leadership has brought all leaders on board, including Mr. Chandy, Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala, KPCC president Mullappally Ramachandran and United Democratic Front (UDF) convener M.M. Hassan as a microcosm of Kerala's diverse electorate.

It has also banned open speculation about Chief Minister candidateship to prevent any mid-campaign power struggle.

The AICC has asked the Election Management and Strategy Committee (EMSC) headed by Mr. Chandy to rebuild the party's election machinery from the rump. It has asked the Congress to mimic the district-level arrangement to catalyse its sluggish ward-level election machinery.

By one account, the EMSC came under intra-party criticism for not having youth on board. Several young MLAs and leaders had felt sidelined.

The AICC prevented potentially embarrassing optics of veteran Congress leader K.V. Thomas deserting the party. It made a placatory gesture by hearing Mr. Thomas at the KPCC headquarters. However, the Congress was unlikely to accede to his demands to prevent possible copycat conduct on the part of other leaders.

The Congress was also eyeing the "factional feud" over the Pala seat in the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) with political intent. Pala legislator Mani C. Kappan is scheduled to meet NCP president Sharad Pawar in Mumbai on Sunday.

Mr. Pawar is a Congress ally at the Centre and Maharashtra. A party insider said Mr. Kappan seemed inclined to jump ship and ally himself with the UDF. Such a move could potentially offset the erosion of votes cased due to the defection of Jose K. Mani to the LDF.

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Printable version | Mar 3, 2021 10:49:55 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/aicc-plots-new-political-course-for-state/article33645293.ece

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