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Thursday 23 January 2020

Oomen Chandy to become KPCC president?

Thiruvananthapuram: Former Chief Minister of Kerala Oommen Chandy is set to become the State chief of the Indian National Congress (INC), sources in the party said. Chandy, who can be considered a leader with a huge mass base in Kerala, is reluctant to accept the post, but the Congress high command seems to have arrived at the decision following pressure from the party cadre and mid-level leaders on the manner in which the party is being sidelined in the political landscape of the State, with the space for supremacy in the political battlefield shifting from between the CPI(M) and INC to one between the CPI(M) and BJP. The entry of the BJP as a main political force in Kerala has its repercussions for the grand old party which has been in power or as the main opposition party through the years now finds itself challenged by the BJP for the political space and almost piped out.

With an inefficient leader of the opposition in Ramesh Chennithala and an incompetent Pradesh Congress president, party cadres believe that Chandy alone has the requisite grassroots connect with the INC workers and can, therefore, rejuvenate the party and make it battle-ready. This idea has led to a rejig of the INC’s factions. Former KPCC president and senior leader K Muraleedharan from the rival “I” group himself called upon Chandy to take up a crucial post — either of the leader of the opposition or KPCC president. This has surprised many political observers as it was Chandy and his group “A” coterie that had ousted late K Karunakaran from the chief ministry of the State.

Muraleedharan is the son of Karunakaran and his support to Chandy is clearly a call to save the party from the brink of irrelevance, which is not possible without some major and tectonic shifts in the organizational apparatus. Muraleedharan, being an effective former KPCC president, is aiming at the post of the leader of the opposition if Chandy becomes the KPCC president or vice versa. This can be seen as a welcome sign by the INC cadre as Muraleedharan and Chandy coming together would lead to a major boost to the INC’s fortunes in Kerala. The party leaders want such a move as the BJP poses a threat to the very existence of the INC in the State.

There will be turbulence within the INC ranks in Kerala in the days to come. Political pundits and party sources are waiting for the high command to come up with a concrete solution to solve the present crisis facing the INC.

Arun Lakshman
Senior journalist based in Thiruvananthapuram

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