Congress in the state is in total mess and turmoil in the midst of the infighting after the party ‘gifted’ its due Rajya Sabha seat to the estranged ally Kerala Congress (Mani). Now, senior leader and former KPCC chief V.M. Sudheeran has hit out at “his leader” and former CM Oommen Chandy alleging that what he got from him (Chandy) was deliberate heedlessness, inadvertence and neglect. Sudheeran was addressing a much awaited press conference in Thiruvananthapuram on June 13. Sudheeran trained his guns on Oomen Chandy throughout out the press conference. He alleged that Chandy gave him rude treatment during his stint as the PCC chief.
Sudheeran alleged that giving up the party’s RS seat and giving it to KC (M) has weakened the party in the state and in the Lok Sabha. Now, UPA loses a member in LS. (Since the tenure of the Lok Sabha will be over in less than 11 months, EC is highly unlikely to conduct a by-poll in Kottayam LS constituency which Mani’s son Jose K. Mani’s is all set to resign in the wake of his election to RS). He says, KM Mani is a turncoat hence no guarantee for his keeping away from BJP if it serves his purpose.
Sudheeran said protests against offering the RS seat to KC (M) on a golden platter invited the protests of the party workers through the length and breadth of the state, all were spontaneous. Political observers are sure, he was referring to, in his own style, the protests witnessed in Kochi; protestors placed decorated coffin with the pictures of both Vhandy and Ramesh Chennithala, in front of the Ernakulam District Congress Committee office, Kochi. Now, the police enquires into the incident allegedly executed by KSU and Youth Congress leaders. In several places young Congress workers burnt Chandy, Ramesh and M.M. Hassan in effigies. However Sudheeran made it clear that since the ‘appeasement KC (M)’ was implemented by the trio, there is no point in targeting Chandy alone.
Senior Congress leader said, he had not shied away from making public statements whenever necessary as he did not want to weaken the party. When he took over the leadership of KPCC he did not have any intention to displace Chandy or any one else. But still Chandy was rude to him. His cold shoulder was really annoying. CM Chandy did not attend the function in Indira Bhavan when he (Sudheeran) took over as the party chief nor he extend any co-operations afterwards. He was very much in Thiruvananthapuram that day, but purposely avoided the function. Later on he could meet the CM at his residence after several attempts; but his response was totally enveloped with disinterest. When Sudheeran embarked on “Janapaksha Yathra”, a campaign traverse throughout the state, despite inaugurating it Chandy did not utter the yahtra captain’s (Sudheeran) name even once.
At the time of resignation as the KPCC chief during March, 2017, Sudheeran had said, it was due to his ill health. But, today he made it crystal clear that the deep dissensions within his party, utter groupism and group managers’ interference in his work paved the way for his decision to quit. Sudheeran added that his efforts to strengthen the party by establishing booth committees were defeated by group managers as they were afraid, the grass-root democratization would put an end to their grip on the party.
Sudheeran said that despite Oommen Chandy’s annoying attitude, he justified Chandy throughout Janapaksha Yatra with respect to solar scandal.
Sudheeran, who scaled the heights of the party echelons from KSU (Kerala chapter of NSUI) and Youth Congress to the Congress party, made it clear that he still considers A.K. Antony and Oommen Chandy as his leaders. He told about the negligence of duties CM Oommen Chandy showed in a 5.5 lakhs acre tea estate in Kerala with expired pattayam (title deed) which government was entitled and expected to take over. Kerala High Court’s single bench verdict was in favour of the government. Veteran lawyer Susheela Bhatt’s legal advice was too powerful to ignore. Sudheeran wrote five letters to the government. Still Chandy asked him how could he let the bureaucrats down. And there was no reply to Sudheeran’s counter question that how could the government let the people down. He alleged that Chandy went ahead with giving the Vizhinjam Harbour contract to Adani group despite AICC’s “no” and keeping KPCC chief in dark.
Sudheeran opposed the allegation that he was leading his own group. He said, if he had established his own group, he could have destroyed both “A” and “I” groups. He alleged that the KPCC meeting of June 12 was arranged sans ensuring the presence of Chandy and LoP Ramesh Chennithala. Both left during the middle of the meeting: Former had to go to Andhra Pradesh in connection with a meeting there first time after he took over as the AICC general secretary while latter went attend the assembly session. The organizers did not give deserving significance to the crucial meeting held to discuss the ‘RS seat to KC (M)’ issue.
He insisted that the assembly election debacle of 2016 was not due to his fault but due to the wrong selection of candidates. His proposals were brushed aside by other leaders during the selection of the candidates. He was ready to resign as the KPCC chief immediately after the election set back. But, since Hassan had demanded it those days, he decided to wait otherwise it would have been attributed to taking the responsibility of the failure.
Sudheeran ridiculed the KPCC leadership’s instruction to the leaders to keep away from public statements regarding party affairs. He reminded the scribes the press conference the incumbent KPCC chief M.M. Hassan had addressed in the KPCC office to counter his (KPCC president V.M. Sudheeran’s) press conference immediately after it. Hassan was the KPCC vice president those days.
Senior Congress leader reminisced that in 1994 Oommen Chandy, the then finance minister, led strong group movements against CM Karunakaran and later resigned from the ministry due to the dispute regarding a RS seat which was gifted by the CM to one of his trusted confidants. Sudheeran says, it was the violation of the collective responsibility of the cabinet.
It is an obvious fact that the excess clout Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) and his COO P.K. Kunjalikkutty MP wields in the UDF politics and their successful efforts to give the Congress’s RS seat to KC (M) is not a good omen for the Congress. Lot of Congress leaders and workers of Congress party believe that if the IUML and Mani’s party join hands in 2021 assembly elections they would claim the CM’s position (if at all UDF comes to power). They point out the fact that IUML’s senior leader late C.H. Mohammed Koya was the chief minister of Kerala (even though it was hardly for couple of months in 1979). By surrendering before IUML and KC (M), Congress has surrendered before the communal parties of the Muslims and the Christians, respectively.
Moreover, it is known to all that Mani has got apprehensions about an easy win for his son Jose K. Mani in Kottayam constituency in the next LS polls. Now, by getting him a berth in RS, son is a safe MP for the next six years. Still the UPA loses a LS MP is a dangerous loss for it.
As Sudheeran rightly said that the RS seat matter would strengthen BJP in the state, desperate Congress rank and file are ready to join the nationalist party as they can not even imagine of joining CPM or LDF. This is very much relevant in the context of the Hindu Congressmen. Now, the ball is in the BJP’s court. They should immediately find out a powerful state president who is capable of playing the party’s cards meticulously. Now, the presidential position remains vacant since Kummanam Rajasekharan took over as Mizoram Governor. BJP central leadership and RSS state leadership should immediately jump into action.