The much-delayed restructuring process of the Congress state unit in Kerala will begin after the declaration of Lok Sabha election results on May 23 and will be wrapped up in two weeks, leaders indicated.
There have been reports that Congress president Rahul Gandhi wanted the state unit restructured before elections, but reportedly the state leadership promised to get it done post polls. Congress state president Mullappally Ramachandran is learnt to have completed the first round of talks with former chief minister Oommen Chandy and former defence minister AK Antony. He will meet in the next few weeks with the Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala and vice-presidents of the state unit.
There have been rumblings within the party on how it could have campaigned better in certain constituencies like Palakkad and Thiruvananthapuram. In both these places, the Congress campaign was reportedly diminished compared to the high voltage campaigns of the CPM and BJP. There have also been severe factional feuds within the district units regarding the candidature in certain seats. In Pathanamthitta, the district unit had omitted the name of sitting MP Anto Antony in its first list sent to the election panel. After the state leadership expressed its displeasure, Antony’s name was re-inserted and finally, he was nominated again. In Palakkad, a citadel of the Left, there has also been displeasure about the Congress candidate and district president VK Sreekandan. Paucity of funds for election expenses was also a big problem this time.
The state leadership will closely look at the contributions of certain leaders in the campaign and decide whether they need to be accommodated in the new restructured state unit. Non-performing leaders and workers are likely to be reprimanded and kept out of key positions.
With a number of MLAs and key party leaders fighting Lok Sabha polls, the party will have to choose cautiously when bypolls come around. UDF convenor Benny Behanan, working presidents Kodikunnil Suresh and K Sudhakaran are all in the fighting ring. If Behanan wins from Chalakudy, the party will have to look for a new UDF convenor. It also has to fill the vacuum left by the demise of MI Shanavas, a sitting MP from Wayanad and one of the three working presidents. It also has to accommodate leaders like KV Thomas, the only sitting Congress MP to be denied a ticket from Ernakulam.
With opinion polls predicting a surge of votes for the Congress in the state, it cannot afford to lose its momentum going forward into local body polls in 2020 and the Assembly elections in 2021.