Several Congress leaders in Kerala have demanded an overhaul of leadership in the state party unit and the UDF during their interaction with an AICC delegation looking into the poor show by the Congress in the recent local body polls.
The delegation was led by AICC general secretary in-charge of Kerala Tariq Anwar. On Sunday, it heard the views of Congress leaders. Leaders of Congress allies would meet the AICC team Monday.
Congress sources said many leaders pointed out that a change of guard was required in the party and UDF. “Nobody named state Congress president Mullappally Ramachandran or UDF convener M M Hassan. We have conveyed our concern that the party cannot face the Assembly elections under the present leadership. At the same time, we are aware that time is running out for a major overhaul,’’ said a Congress leader who spoke at the meeting.
Party sources said leaders blamed UDF convener Hassan for entering into an electoral understanding with Jamaat-e-Islami’s Welfare Party of India, which, they said, led to the drifting away of secular votes and majority community votes. “During the local body polls, the UDF machinery failed to give a clear explanation on its tie-up with Welfare Party of India,” a source said.
With the CPM claiming that the Congress is being led by Indian Union Muslim League, party leaders said they should send out a strong message that UDF allies cannot hijack the Congress. “The impression that Congress is led by a minority-dominated party would lead to further erosion of votes from majority segment and non-Muslim minorities. The party requires a strong leadership which can assert itself before the allies,’’ another Congress leader said.
Several party leaders demanded that new faces should be fielded in the Assembly elections due to next year. “By picking a 21-year-old as next Mayor of Thiruvananthapuram, CPM has sent a powerful message that it is giving more space for youth, even though it is mere tokenism. In Congress, leaders aged above 70 and those who have retired from Delhi after several terms of Parliamentary politics are raring to contest the Assembly polls. We have demanded chances for young leaders,’’ said another leader.
Senior party leader and former CM Oommen Chandy told the media that the time is not apt for a change in leadership for Congress and UDF. “It is up to the high command to decide whether sitting MPs should contest the state polls,” he said.
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