Congress sees a cold-war between the old guard and the new generation as reorganisation of the party’s state unit continues.
New Delhi: The Congress state unit in Kerala is witnessing a cold-war between the old guards and the new generation as the reorganization of the party’s state unit continues. The defeat in the recently concluded Assembly elections had forced the central leadership to initiate major changes in the party’s district and state units which had not gone well with senior leaders like former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and former Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly, Ramesh Chennithala.
The newly appointed Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president, K. Sudhakaran, and the Leader of the Opposition, V.D. Satheesan, has been targeted by the old guards for not consulting veteran leaders “adequately” while deciding the list of new district Congress committee presidents. Leaders like V.M. Sudheeran have faced disciplinary action as they made public statements against the selection.
A former MLA of Congress, who wished to be unnamed, said, “The elections exposed our overall weakness. Large state committee of 400-odd members was of no use. The old guards who are now questioning the working of the new state leadership should first introspect on their own loopholes which led to the defeat of the party in the polls. What the party is doing now should have been done two years back. But now I am hopeful that the changes will benefit us in the long run and strengthen the ideological understanding of the cadres.” In the 2021 Kerala Assembly elections, the Indian National Congress-led UDF alliance won 41 seats with Congress’s figures going down to 21 seats, while the Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led LDF won 99 Assembly seats. The Kerala state Assembly had 140 seats. Kottayam-based senior analyst Ravikiran Unnikrishnan said, “The election results of 2021 Assembly polls highlighted the weakness of the state and district units. What we are seeing now is that the Congress is trying to rebuild itself from the ground, the focus of the new state leadership is to mobilize booth units through the district units. It seems that the Congress in Kerala is working at a long-term plan and aiming for a structured overhaul from bottom to top. We have been told that a ‘political school’, in Thiruvananthapuram would be set-up in the coming months to produce ideologically committed workers for the party. In the state, the old guards are now out from the helm of affairs. The new leadership is led by the likes of KPCC president K. Sudhakaran, Opposition Leader in the Assembly V.D. Satheesan and AICC general secretary K.C. Venugopal who are deciding the agenda for the party.”
Political observers feel that another big challenge for the party would be to win back the communities that have drifted away from it in the 2011-2021 period. With the growing clout of the Muslim League in the 2011-16, the Oommen Chandy government had made the Catholic Christians drift away from Congress. With the Kerala Congress (Mani) now aligned with the Left and sections of the church trying to curry favour with the BJP, the road ahead for the Congress is not going to be easy, but still it has the time to correct itself and prepare for the long run.