Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Saturday will kickstart the party’s poll campaign for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections in Kerala. All set to address a special convention of the Congress state unit in Kochi, the Congress president will meet party functionaries from the grassroots-level to discuss strategies and issue mandate ahead of the upcoming electoral battle.
Gandhi is expected to meet Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, who is sulking over the appointment of V M Sudheeran as Kerala Congress chief. Infact, Chandy did not even turn up to receive party president Sonia Gandhi when she arrived in Kochi on Friday.
Chandy’s absence to receive the Congress president at the naval airbase becomes conspicuous against the backdrop of his resentment over making Sudheeran party state president. Sudheeran, who was to receive Sonia, said that he did not know the reason for Chandy’s absence.
State Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala, who was also against Sudheeran’s appointment, did not respond to queries on Chandy’s absence, but, the Chief Minister later told the media in Malappuram that he was busy with official functions.
AICC secretary Deepak Babaria, who earlier met Chandy, asserted the failure to communicate about Sudheeran’s appointment was only a communication gag. On Tuesday, when Sudheeran assumed charge in the presence of ministers and senior party leaders, the Chief Minister remained in his office.
The next day he did not attend a party reception accorded to Sudheeran and newly appointed vice-president V D Satheeshan, triggering talks in the party circles. The other day, Chandy made his reservation public and questioned the manner in which the party high command foisted “the veteran rebel’’ as party state president.
“You ask the high command with whom they had consulted before making the appointment and who all in Kerala were informed about the decision,” said Chandy.
However, former KPCC president K Muraleedharan clarified it was not mandatory that the state leaders should be informed in advance about an appointment from Delhi.
Dominating groups of Chandy and Chennithala are worried that the high command would resort to the approach of foisting its nominees as candidates in the LS elections.In the last assembly elections, Rahul Gandhi had launched a group of young men as party candidates, surprising the group leaders in Kerala, who share seats and spoils among them.
Kiran Bedi tried to establish her credentials as a secular, pro-women candidate.