Congress leaders in Kerala air differences in public

M.K. Raghavan’s criticism sparks off a wave of reactions in the party

March 04, 2023 07:49 pm | Updated 07:49 pm IST - KOZHIKODE

Less than a week after its plenary session in Raipur, where it outlined its strategy to take on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s Hindutva politics in the 2024 Lok Sabha election, the Congress party leadership in the State appears to have reverted to its habitual conduct of airing differences publicly.

In a surprising turn of events, M.K. Raghavan, MP, publicly criticised the party leadership for following a “use and throw approach,” sparking off a wave of reactions in the party. He levelled the criticism during a meeting in memory of former Congress leader P. Sankaran in Kozhikode on Friday.

Mr. Raghavan, who took a strong stand in backing Congress leader Shashi Tharoor in the All India Congress Committee (AICC) presidential polls, even went on to say that intra-party democracy is out of the question in the party and leaders would have to remain silent if they want to climb up the political ladder. Subsequently, Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president K. Sudhakaran sought a report from District Congress Committee (DCC) president K. Praveenkumar, who pointed out that Mr. Raghavan’s remarks were inappropriate.

More reactions

On Saturday, more leaders began to react to the development, with former KPCC president K. Muraleedharan supporting Mr. Raghavan and taking exception to the DCC president sharing his report in the public domain. He also asked the KPCC to summon the Political Affairs Committee to discuss the differences of opinion in the party.

At the same time, AICC general secretary K.C. Venugopal in Alappuzha said that differences of opinion should be discussed within the party and pointed out that the party was going ahead with organisational polls. However, Leader of the Opposition V.D. Satheesan chose to remain silent on the issue.

Party reorganisation

Despite the party central leadership having periodically put a gag on leaders airing their opinions openly, Mr. Raghavan’s criticism was not unexpected because of the dissatisfaction within the party ranks over its reorganisation. The incident, many believe, would dent the image of the party, even as it managed to make big gains in the local body by-polls this week.

Party sources said that the lack of unity and coherence within the party could undermine its prospects in the Lok Sabha polls. It remains to be seen if the party can overcome the organisational crisis and maintain its unity in the face of growing challenges from both the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the BJP in the State.

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