Congress’ reorganising drive runs into rough weather

June 06, 2023 12:00 am | Updated 05:37 am IST - Thiruvananthapuram

Party factions and leadership contenders feel sidelined

A major block-level reorganising drive to put the Congress on an election footing ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls seems to have run into rough weather.

After a hiatus of 12 years, the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) supplanted 197 long-serving block panchayat presidents with new faces selected by a seven-member committee. (The appointment of presidents in 88 block panchayats is held up due to local intra-party disputes)

Nevertheless, the powerful A and I factions in the KPCC have reportedly called for a halt to party reorganisation. For one, Benny Behanan, MP, long reckoned an A group leader beholden to former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, said the KPCC had executed a rushed reorganisation sans consultations.

Mr. Behanan said he would move the AICC against the “arbitrarily” imposed structural changes without a full and frank inner-party debate. Congress leader M.K. Raghavan, MP, who openly backed Shashi Tharoor, MP, in the latter’s bid for AICC presidentship against the party’s official candidate Mallikarjun Kharge, also echoed a similar sentiment.

The KPCC leadership claimed that the framework for reorganisation adhered to the party’s rule book. A Congress insider said the party charted a new course by not bowing to group politics that motivated “hirings and firings” at the block level.

Instead, social and age demographics and leadership prowess dictated the selection process. The purpose was to render Congress nimble, responsive and politically opportunistic at the booth and block levels. The KPCC felt that the “new faces” would oversee key parts of the party’s grassroots-level operation, including honing political messaging and manifesto offers, as Congress moves to the next phase of election readiness.

Nevertheless, the A and I factions feel the shake-up would render the KPCC and Congress Legislative Party (CLP) leadership the most “dominant clique” in the party’s State unit. The groups felt “both power centres” violated the Wayanad leadership conclave resolution to adopt a consensus approach to party reorganisation.

A and I factions have reportedly called for a halt to party reorganisation.

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