Chandy, Chennithala, stay away from UDF meeting

A routine United Democratic Front (UDF) meeting appeared to accumulate adverse media attention on Monday with two top Congress leaders “staying away” from the Opposition conclave.

Oommen Chandy and Ramesh Chennithala, who heads the well-entrenched ‘A’ and ‘I’ factions in the Congress in the State respectively, triggered television news scrolls and commentariat by their absence at the conference held at Cantonment House, the official residence of Leader of the Opposition V.D. Satheesan.

It also did not seem to help the party that Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president K. Sudhakaran was also away.

By one account, coalition partners were reportedly disquieted by the prospect of a resurgence of feuding in the Congress at the cusp of a massive grassroots-level campaign planned against K-Rail.

Mr. Chandy and Mr. Chennithala were reportedly disgruntled for some time over the All India Congress Committee’s decision to allow the KPCC leadership to “restructure the party at will” ahead of organisational polls in April 2022. They felt the move would allow the incumbent powers in the Congress to control the membership drive and stack the decks in their favour ahead of the polls.

The factions protested against Mr. Sudhakaran’s “skewed” application of the party rule book to eject workers perceived to be inimical to the KPCC leadership.

Certain party insiders said the absence of the leaders at the UDF conclave was no act of protest. There was no pressing agenda, and many UDF leaders were in New Delhi. However, the subsequent reactions of UDF convener M.M. Hassan and AICC general secretary Tariq Anwar seemed to belie their claim.

Mr. Hassan said somewhat cryptically that the onus was on Mr. Chandy and Mr. Chennithala to explain why they did not attend the UDF conclave. Mr. Anwar told reporters in Kannur that he would speak to the leaders and smoothen out any issues.

Protest season

Mr. Hassan later said the UDF would muster people displaced by the K-Rail project and march to the Secretariat on November 18. It would organise resistance to the semi-high-speed railway at the neighbourhood level in 11 districts.

On December 6, a UDF delegation headed by Mr. Satheesan would visit Attappady to investigate the worrying infant deaths.

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Printable version | Jan 22, 2022 10:33:33 AM |

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