Murmurs of a generational shift in Congress’ Kerala unit

Written by Shaju Philip | Thiruvananthapuram | Updated: June 11, 2016 8:27 am
Kerala, Keral congress, Keral elections, kerala assembly elections 2016, kerala polls, Oommen Chandy, Ramesh Chennithalam Chennithalam, Chandy, VM Sudheeran, UDF, A K Antony, kerala election winners, kerala elections losers, india news Congress leaders Oommen Chandy and Ramesh Chennithala.

FOLLOWING LAST weekend’s debate on the poll debacle within the Kerala unit of the Congress, the demand is growing for a generation shift in the party leadership even as senior leaders such as Oommen Chandy and Ramesh Chennithala try to cling on to their position at the top.

Chandy, the former chief minister, his rival in the party Chennithala, and state Congress chief V M Sudheeran had buried their rivalry and reached an agreement to retain the status quo even before the party held a meeting of the elected legislators.

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But several leaders, including former state unit president K Muraleedharan, have now come out against the bid by the trio to divide power among themselves.

Stating that the prevailing mood in the party is for a change at the top, state Congress vice-president V D Satheesan said, “The party requires a leadership that is credible, which can strengthen the secular stand, and has a face free of corruption stains. Many are indignant against the present leadership. People are looking for change.”

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Calling herself a victim of group and caste politics in the party, former AICC secretary Shanimol Usman recently wrote on Facebook, “Now merit means group loyalty and caste. If violent politics and communalism have to be opposed fiercely, a generation change in the party leadership is necessary.”

All India Youth Congress secretary Mathew Kuzhalnadan said the leaders at the top of the hierarchy have been at the helm for the last three or four decades, “silencing the voice of dissent and correction” all these years. “If we don’t react to the leadership that has taken the party to its present predicament, it would be a disservice to the party,’’ Kuzhalnadan said.

Sources said the feeling among many is that since the election debacle has clearly shown that the present leadership has “failed miserably”, there is “no wisdom” is continuing with it and expecting the leaders to strengthen the party. “They cannot take any revolutionary step to bring back the party’s credibility,” one Congress leader said. “This is an extraordinary situation that demands extraordinary decisions from the party high command.”

Many Congress leaders opposed to the Chandy and Chennithala factions are also indignant at senior leader A K Antony, who they blame for giving tacit support to the status quo.

Meanwhile, there is a bid to make Chandy the party state president, unseating the incumbent, V M Sudheeran. After the polls, Chandy has lost the post of Opposition leader to his rival Chennithala. As a rehabilitation package, Chandy was offered the post of UDF chairman, which is normally held by the Opposition leader himself. Chandy is seen to have declined that post as part of a tactical move.

Both Chandy and Chennithala factions have demanded that Sudheeran should go. They want Chandy to be the state Congress president and Chennithala as the Opposition leader in Assembly. Both leaders are expected to meet the party high command in the coming days.

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  1. C
    Jun 11, 2016 at 8:16 am
    Like in other states,, the Congress party in Kerala is on the decline as it's losing its traditional votes to the BJP and LDF. The groupism in the party has seen lot of mediocre leaders getting into party positions and this has demoralized the workers. The coveted positions is the party are cornered by senior leaders and this is evident from the nominations to Rajya Sabha as A.K.Antony, Vayalar Ravi and P.J.Kurien are aged above 75 years and have been in the upper pouse for about two decades. The selection of opposition leader Ramesh Chennitala is another example of positions being shared among a few leaders under whose leadership the party fared miserably in the last embly elections.
  2. M
    Mohammad Bin Tughlaq
    Jun 11, 2016 at 3:01 am
    Why Congress is so much bothered about the electoral defeat? It has gone the same way as it used to for all these years. In Kerala politics is like a revolving door. Every five years it revolves once and then the one in goes out and the one out goes in. Whatever party may rule the people of Kerala get bored and disgusted and vote in the opposition. Not all people. The fence sitters. Solid bases voters of both parties do not change loyalty. And all the scams and all has not much of an importance for the Kerala voters. They are least bothered about any progress also. As long as the gulf money flows they are least bothered of anything. Once it stops the scene will change and people will look more closely on the rulers. Till then they can flip flop.
  3. S
    Suresh K
    Jun 11, 2016 at 8:50 am
    Even a generational shift may not be able to save the Congress. The new generation is also very much in the grips of communalism and casteism, as the various religious, caste and communal groups have realised the necessity for catching them young. Sonia hi (or, for that matter, Rahul hi or even Priyanka hi) does not seem to have the intelligence or wisdom to solve the problems affecting the party in Kerala or the country. Oommen Chandy represents the Christians of the state. Chennithala represents the Nairs. This is how Congress selects people for different posts. Unless there is a mive revolution within the Congress, there is no hope for the party in the near or distant future.