Race for new Congress chief in Kerala begins

The 21 Congress legislators though have decided to pay attention to the job at hand — deciding on who should be their leader in the assembly.

Thiruvananthapuram, May 27 : The grand old party might be going through tough times in Kerala but there is never a dull moment among its top leaders as there is always something on the horizon for them to make their moves on, just like now, when the post of state Congress president is up for grabs.

The party expected to regain power, as per the history of electoral politics in Kerala. However, in an unexpected outcome, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan-led Left raced pass the UDF.

Following the rout in April 6 elections, State party president Mullapally Ramachandran and Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala came under heavy duress, especially in the social media, where party supporters bayed for their blood.

The 21 Congress legislators though have decided to pay attention to the job at hand — deciding on who should be their leader in the assembly.

Contrary to all expectations, this time the party high command stepped in bringing V.D. Satheesan into the picture.

The one-move that left the seasoned veterans and faction managers — two times former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and party leader Ramesh Chennithala stunned.

A political analyst on condition of anonymity said with the high command having chosen Satheesan, even when Chennithala had the majority support of legislators, in all likelihood the president also would be the high command’s call.

Stumped by the high command’s decision, the faction managers have now decided to take the fight into the enemy camp as the names of aspirants for the post of president, surfaced. It includes Lok Sabha members K. Sudhakaran, K. Muraleedharan and Benny Behanan and senior legislator P.T.Thomas.

“Unlike in the previous years, this time with Rahul Gandhi being an MP from Wayanad, has gained a fair idea over the past two years having a connect with a cross-section of Congress leaders and workers. He knows the way the party faction managers run the party here. By bringing in Satheesan, the new president also can be the high command’s pick,” said the critic.

Even as the names of hopefuls have started making the rounds, the name of Sudhakaran appears to have come under heavy attack from the now joint Chandy-Chennithala factions as the high command’s email box was jammed with numerous mails demanding that Sudhakaran should not be considered.

Muraleedharan, son of late K.Karunakaran is bidding for it too and to a large extent he saved the party, when he took on the challenge of contesting from the Nemom assembly constituency, here. Though he lost, he successfully dashed the hopes of the BJP to retain their only seat which they won in 2016 polls.

The arrival of Behanan and Thomas, in a away has surprised many as, not long ago the duo were both close aides of Chandy, but when Thomas felt, Chandy was giving more importance to Behanan, who literally turned out to be his ‘man Friday’ when he was the Chief Minister (2011-16), Thomas went his own way.

Of late, with Chandy’s health failing, Behanan too, has appeared to move out of the Chandy camp and with Muraleedharan, having a good relation with Chandy, it remains to be seen, if he will be able to clinch the post for him.

All eyes are now on who is going to be the new president and if here again, the high command decides to act tough, then it could be curtains for once powerhouses like Chandy and Chennithala, who for the past two decades have been the final word in the party.

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