A politically significant meeting of ‘A’ and ‘I’ group leaders on Friday in Thiruvananthapuram seemed to signal a new evolution of long-standing factionalism in the Congress.
The competing groups have apparently found a common enemy in an “emergent bloc” allegedly helmed by Opposition Leader V.D. Satheesan and KPCC president K. Sudhakaran. The so-called “third group” appear to be jostling against the traditional factions to insert its loyalists into crucial party positions with some success in the current reorganisation drive. The infighting had spilt into the open with a slew of ‘A’ and ‘I’ factional meetings across Kerala.
There were secret group parleys and finally, a “meeting of minds” at a star hotel in Thiruvananthapuram on Friday.
The jockeying by ‘A’ and ‘I’ factions for a higher say in the reorganisation process also resulted in a closed-door meeting between senior Congress leader and ‘I’ group “grandee”, Ramesh Chennithala and Mr. Sudhakaran, at the Indira Bhavan in the evening.
Both leaders refused to divulge anything about the discussion, and the talks seemed inconclusive.
Nevertheless, a person from the ‘I’ camp said Mr. Chennithala “strongly articulated” the “prevailing sentiment” that KPCC and CLP leadership bypassed senior leaders in deciding block presidents. Mr. Chennithala reportedly conveyed that top leaders, transcending group equations, would move the AICC against what they perceive as a deliberate attempt to keep them out of the loop.
The jury was still out on how the endgame would play out. The AICC was reportedly loath to supplant the list of block presidents submitted by a KPCC subcommittee and vetted by senior leaders.
A Congress insider said the AICC was worried that the “discordant chorus” in the party made it harder for Congress to craft a unified message ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
The AICC might also strive for a detente between the factions in the PCC by promising more accommodation for the ‘A’ and ‘I’ groups in block, mandalam and District Congress Committee appointments.
Given the shifting political landscape in South India post-Congress’s emphatic win in the Karnataka Assembly elections and the looming Lok Sabha elections, the high command was likely to go the extra mile to ensure an amicable settlement.