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Modi, Vijayan are both authoritarian, says Kerala PCC chief

Mullapally Ramachandran. File   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

After a long wait the Congress headquarters finally appointed former union minister and Lok Sabha MP Mullapally Ramachandran as the Kerala unit president. He spoke to The Hindu on his immediate goal, the Modi-Vijayan parallel and the dire financial situation of the party in the State.

As newly appointed PCC president what are your immediate concerns?

My immediate concern is to ensure unity and discipline in the party. The main challenge is the upcoming Lok Sabha polls. My priority is to also expose the administration in Kerala governed by the CPI (M). The Congress has eight seats and together with allies we have 12 seats. I am confident that we will improve our existing tally.

The Congress in Kerala is financially in dire straits. How would you tackle the situation?

Money is going to be a critical and crucial issue. The BJP has been pumping in money in all elections from panchayat level to Lok Sabha polls. They have plenty of money so much so that they don’t know what to do with it. The CPI(M) too has access to a lot of money with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s cosy equation with the affluent classes. But for us it is going to be a problem. We have been dependent on door-to-door collection. I don’t think that will be sufficient for the election this time.

Handing over the Rajya Sabha seat to the Kerala Congress (Mani) caused a lot of heartburn. How do you intend to smooth out the differences on the issue.

It’s a closed chapter. On Thursday we have convened a meeting of UDF coalition partners in Thiruvananthapuram. We will be discussing threadbare the road map for the future. Fortunately I have excellent relations with all coalition partners be it Muslim League, Kerala Congress or Forward Bloc. I don’t think there will be much heartburn in the coming days.

At the national level you face Prime Minister Narendra Modi and in the State you face Pinarayi Vijayan. What are the parallels between the two?

Both of them are authoritarian in nature. Their style of functioning is also similar. PM Narendra Modi does not consult anyone, similarly Mr. Vijayan too does not listen or talk to anyone. The CPI (M) in fact has an advantage this time. When EMS Namboodiripad was Chief Minister he didn’t have control over the party. He was more of an intellectual who was celebrated for his scholastic abilities. Even V.S. Achuthanandan was isolated within his own party when he was occupying the Chief Minister’s seat. Mr. Vijayan enjoys full control of the party. In fact, he has more control over the party than the general secretary. He is CM as well de facto general secretary.

How will you deal with the various factions within the Congress in Kerala?

All the leaders of Kerala, be it Mr. A.K. Antony or Mr. Oommen Chandy or Mr. Ramesh Chennithala or name anyone, they are all close friends of mine. We have worked together for many years. I would not say there are factions within the party. There are a few personal equations between these leaders and the cadres. But they all realise the gravity of the situation... and I am pretty sure I will get complete cooperation from all these leaders.

Congress and Left parties are working closely at the national level but in the State you are facing each other. How do you tackle this peculiar situation?

At the national level the Congress is taking the initiative to build a consortium of like-minded secular parties. But the situation in Kerala is different. We can’t have any understanding with the CPI (M). I would go a step further and say that any vote given to the CPI (M) is equal to voting for the BJP. The CPI (M) has been fence-sitters during all the agitations that the Congress led in the Lok Sabha. When we are in the well of the House, the CPI (M) continues to sit around as mute spectator.


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Printable version | Aug 5, 2021 10:11:00 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/modi-vijayan-are-both-authoritarian-says-kerala-pcc-chief/article25042150.ece

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