Saturday 10 December 2022
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PoliticsIndiaHow Kerala Congress chief pushed party into awkward dilemma

How Kerala Congress chief pushed party into awkward dilemma

Kerala Congress chief K Sudhakaran has made such statements that have forced his party to choose between supporting arch-rival CPM and making IUML dictate terms

Former INC president Rahul Gandhi-led Bharat Jodo Yatra has a message. It intends to convey the idea rightly or wrongly that his party knows a better way of keeping India united than the RSS, but the Congress chief has identified a different ideological foe. Two successive statements by Kerala Congress chief K Sudhakaran are being seen as going soft on the Sangh.

Lok Sabha MP Sudhakaran, trying to challenge the ruling CPI(M), the INC’s principal opposition in Kerala, ended up projecting it as the bigger enemy. This has reportedly not gone down well with the INC ally IUML, a party of Muslims.

On 2 November, Sudhakaran said he had protected RSS shakhas in in the face of threats from communists in Kannur, his home district, during his days in the Congress (Organisation) dating back 50 years. Today, attending a party event in Kannur, he said first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was “magnanimous” enough to induct RSS leader Syama Prasad Mookerjee as a minister in his cabinet, appreciating this “large-heartedness to even compromise with communal fascism”.

The CPI(M) seized the opportunity to accuse Sudhakaran of being anti-minority and asked the IUML to consider quitting the UDF alliance with the INC. CPI(M) state secretary MV Govindan alleged Sudhakaran was on the side of those who had attacked mosques during the Thalasseri communal riots of 1971.

Not letting the chance pass, the BJP’s  state president K Surendran said: “It is very clear that Sudhakaran’s mind is with the BJP. Many Congress leaders share their views. They are facing uncertainty due to the clout the IUML wields in the Congress and UDF. We are ready to give to such Congress leaders,’’ he said.

Speaking about the IUML, Surendran said that it was anyway planning to move to the CPI(M)-led LDF and would use this as an excuse to do so.

Meanwhile, the IUML, observing the CPI(M)’s strident opposition to Hindutva in Kerala, has warned the INC that remarks like those by Sudhakaran could affect the unity of the coalition. IUML politician MK Muneer reminded Sudharakan of Rahul Gandhi’s statement that “anyone with RSS mentality should leave the Congress”.

But kicking out Sudhakaran is not an option for the INC, which is meeting two days from now to deliberate upon the issue, as that would mean the IUML dictating terms in the UDF alliance. The BJP already accuses the INC, as well as the CPI(M)-led UDF, of appeasement politics, and hence is enjoying the tussle in the rival camps from the sidelines.

The INC does not find this juncture convenient either. When the Pinarayi Vijayan government is sparring with Governor Arif Mohammad Khan, supporting the RSS amounts also to going against the communist fight with the ‘saffronisation’ of higher education, making the CPI(M) appear as the only camp that is pro-Muslim, more so in the light of the fact that UDF allies like the IUML and have called for not supporting the governor. And if Congress sides with Chief Minister Vijayan against Governor Khan, the archrival in the state becomes stronger.

In the midst of the dilemma, some INC leaders say they have missed the bus by not attacking the CPI(M) for their recent alliance with the BJP in the cooperative election in West Bengal.

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