January 19, 2021 2:29:48 am
The Congress high command on Monday decided to set up a committee headed by Oommen Chandy to oversee and manage the party’s campaign for the upcoming Assembly polls in Kerala, signalling that the former Chief Minister, who has not been very active for some time, would play a lead role in the election efforts. The party, however, will not project a CM candidate to avoid an internal showdown before polls.
Close on the heels of the Congress’s poor showing in the local body elections, party chief Sonia Gandhi and senior leader Rahul Gandhi met top leaders from the state and reviewed preparations for the Assembly elections. The high command once again asked the state leaders to work unitedly. It is learnt that the state leadership has been asked to give tickets to a sizable number of fresh and young faces. The state leadership has been asked to apply merit and winnability as criteria for selecting candidates and not on the basis of factions.
The defeat in the local body elections had triggered a war of words in the Congress in Kerala. Amid deepening factional feud, top leaders – among them Chandy, state Congress chief Mullappally Ramachandran and Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala – met the Congress president along with senior leader A K Antony, AICC general secretary in charge of organisation K C Venugopal and AICC in charge of Kerala Tariq Anwar.
Anwar had visited the state earlier this month.
Sources said it was decided that a committee comprising top leaders will be set up to devise strategies and manage the campaign. Chandy will head the committee. Sources said Congress’s allies, including Indian Union Muslim League, were keen that the former Chief Minister plays an active role in the elections and returns to lead the campaign.
Party leaders said it was not a setback for Chennithala, who was said to be eying the leadership role. “The committee will have all top leaders. So the party is going into elections under a collective leadership,” one senior leader said. “After we win the elections, we will decide on the CM and the ministry,” Antony told reporters.
Chandy praised Chennithala’s work as Leader of the Opposition. Chennithala, on the other hand, said there was no basis for reports that the party was divided. “We are all united.”
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines