After changes that it made in leadership and the parliamentary party in Kerala — in the wake of defeat in the Assembly polls — triggered unease among the state’s dominant factions, Congress brass may now intervene to soothe ruffled feathers, it is learnt. As a first step, Ramesh Chennithala could be brought to Delhi as an AICC general secretary in charge of an election-going state, sources said.
Chennithala met senior Congress leader and Wayanad MP Rahul Gandhi of Friday. Sources said he conveyed his unhappiness over the way changes were made in the party’s Kerala unit. Soon after the election defeat, the party high command had appointed V D Satheesan as the Leader of Opposition overlooking Chennithala who held the post in the last Assembly.
An upset Chennithala had then written to Congress president Sonia Gandhi saying he felt “humiliated” by the way the central leadership handled the matter and argued a senior leader like him does not deserve such a treatment. Sources said senior leaders like former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and former PCC president Mullappally Ramachandran too were not happy and Chennithala has indicated this to Gandhi.
Talking to reporters after the meeting, Chennithala said he was relieved.
According to sources, Chennithala could now be brought to Delhi as AICC general secretary in-charge of either Punjab or Gujarat — states where Assembly elections are due next year. While AICC in-charge of Punjab, Harish Rawat, has already asked the high command to relieve him of the post since his home state of Uttarakhand too is scheduled for polls in the first half of next year. The post of AICC in-charge of Gujarat is vacant after the death of Rajiv Satav.
Source said Gandhi is planning to travel to Kerala soon and he could meet both Chandy and Ramachandran. Chandy is already an AICC general secretary (in-charge of Andhra Pradesh) and a member of the Congress Working Committee (CWC). Former Chief Minister A K Antony is also a CWC member. K C Venugopal, another prominent leader from Kerala, is the AICC general secretary (organization).
Giving a prominent role to Chennithala in Delhi would also mean giving a free hand to both Leader of Opposition V D Satheesan and newly-appointed state Congress president K Sudhakaran. If Chennithala is appointed AICC general secretary, he will become a member of the CWC by virtue of the post, which means the CWC will have four members from Kerala.
Chennithala was an AICC secretary before he was appointed state Congress president in 2005. “The first priority is obviously Kerala. But I will accept whatever responsibility is given to me by the leadership..wherever it is given,” Chennithala said.