V.M. Sudheeran resigns from AICC, plunging Congress in Kerala into a new crisis

Congress leader V.M. Sudheeran   | Photo Credit: The Hindu

Congress leader V.M.Sudheeran on Monday resigned from the All India Congress Committee (AICC). He has sent his resignation letter to Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

Mr. Sudheeran had turned up the heat in his dispute with the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) leadership when AICC general secretary in charge of Kerala, Tariq Anwar, was in town.


Last week, Mr. Sudheeran had stepped down from the KPCC’s Political Affairs Committee (PAC). He has not yet articulated the reason for his relinquishment of two key party posts in close succession.

Gloomy silence

Nevertheless, his somewhat gloomy silence on the matter has triggered speculation that Mr. Sudheeran might be on the cusp of parting ways with the organisation he had served for decades. Mr. Sudheeran has shunned the media and remained closeted in his house.

He had stood his ground when Leader of Opposition, V. D. Satheesan, called on him on Sunday with a plea to withdraw his resignation from the PAC.

By one account, Mr. Sudheeran felt hurt that the national and State leadership had ignored his counsel in organisational and political matters.

He had sent a succession of letters to the party's national leadership on issues plaguing the Congress in Kerala. However, they reportedly elicited no response.

Mr. Sudheeran had also complained that the current KPCC leadership had ignored his opinion in the choice of District Congress Committee (DCC) presidents.

Divisions remain

Congress leaders Oomen Chandy, Ramesh Chennithala, and Mullapally Ramachandran had also openly espoused such a view.

The old guard reportedly felt threatened by the "triad" of AICC general secretary, organisation, K. C. Venugopal, KPCC president K. Sudhakaran and Mr. Satheesan, who supposedly called the shots in the party in Kerala.

Several Congress workers viewed Mr. Sudheeran's resignation from the AICC as an unequivocal message of dissent to the party's national leadership.

It has spotlighted the deep divisions in the party and signalled a new crisis in the making for the flailing Congress in the State. The KPCC leadership feared Mr. Sudheeran would remain implacable and might air his grievances publicly.

Such an "outburst" could damage the party's public and lend credence to the grievances raised by other leaders who had quit the organisation to join the Communist Party of India (Marxist)[CPI(M)].

Lone wolf

Mr. Sudheeran, a former KPCC president himself, has a lone wolf image and was for long the ethical face of Congress in Kerala.

Of late, the veteran leader had a series of run-ins with the current KPCC leadership over the appointment of DCC presidents and lack of consultation within the party.

Mr. Sudheeran had pointedly rejected the neo-liberal economic outlook of the Manmohan Singh era recently. Instead, he argued for a return to Nehruvian socialism, a political line that could endear him to the Left.

Notably, Mr. Sudheeran's resignation had come at an ominous time when defection to the CPI(M) was in vogue among disgruntled Congress leaders.

Political theatre

Some of Mr. Sudheeran's critics in the KPCC felt that the veteran had created unnecessary political theatre for getting accommodation at the party's national level. They also blamed him for his "inflexible stance" on prohibition that arguably precipitated the "bar bribery" case that undermined the stature of the Oomen Chandy government in 2015.

High stature

Mr. Sudheeran had made his mark as Speaker, Health Minister, MP and legislator. He had also campaigned against environmental crimes, including black sand mining. He had the backing of the Church on the issue of prohibition.

Mr. Sudheeran was credited with reintegrating K. Muralidharan, MP, into the Congress after the latter's break with the party in 2011. As KPCC president, he had vehemently opposed factionalism in the party. Mr. Sudheeran was also widely viewed as a close confidant of Congress Working Committee member A. K. Antony.

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Printable version | Oct 24, 2021 12:25:52 PM |

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