Discontent is brewing in the Congress in Kerala over moves to give another term to P J Kurien, whose Rajya Sabha tenure ends next month, with at least one young MLA opining that the upper house should not be seen as an ‘old age home’.
Three Rajya Sabha seats from the state, including the one held by Kurien, the deputy chairman, will fall vacant on July 1. The young MLAs in the party from Kerala–V T Balram, Hibi Eden, Anil Akkara, Roji M John and Shafi Parambil have openly voiced their discontent against any move to give another chance to Kurien.
In separate Facebook posts on Sunday, Congress MLA from Ernakulam, Hibi Eden, said the Upper house should not be seen as an ‘old age home’ . “The party has turned into a consortium of leaders and more than party’s interests, priority is now being given to personal preferences”, he said.
“New set of people should come instead of tried and tested old faces. People are yearning for new programmes, new techniques. If that change does not happen in the RS polls, it will isolate the party from the people, particularly from youngsters and women”, Eden said. The leaders who wish to remain in office till their end are a ‘curse’ to the party, Roji M John, who represents Angamally in Ernakulam district in the assembly, said in another post.
“The situation is similar with regard to many other party positions also. If the party is not prepared to change, then lakhs of workers who love this organisation will not remain silent and that is the message that is being heard since the past few days”, he said, apparently referring to the recent drubbing the Congress-UDF received in the Chengannur bypoll.
D Vijayakumar of Congress had lost by 20,956 votes over winning candidate Saji Cheriyan of CPI(M) in the bypoll. In a post laced with sarcasm, another MLA, Anil Akkara said ‘the party should not trouble Kurien any more by giving him huge responsibilities”. Balaram, the Thrithala MLA, said Kurien should declare on his own that he was not for another term in the upper house and hoped that the senior leader would use this opportunity judiciously to bid adieu to parliamentary politics.
His services as Union minister and Deputy chairman would always be remembered, Balram said. Seventy seven-year-old Kurien was a Lok Sabha MP from 1980-1999 and was elected to the Rajya Sabha in July 2005. He was elected deputy chairman in August 2012. Reacting to the criticism, Kurien said he had never hankered after party positions and was prepared to stay away if the party asked him to do so.
When the opinions raised by the MLAs were brought to his attention, Kurien told television channels that the party comprises both young and senior leaders. It was the Congress which had given him all the posts and he was made MP after working for 25 years for the party, he said. The Election Commission had recently announced biennial polls to three Rajya Sabha seats from Kerala, including the one held by Kurien, falling vacant on July 1.
The election will be held on June 21. Besides Kurien, Joy Abraham (Kerala Congress-M) and C P Narayanan (CPI-M) will retire on July 1.