In a blow to AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhis much-hyped talent hunt exercise,the new president of the Youth Congresss Kerala unit selected through the process had to give up the post within hours following protests by state leaders. M Liju,who was handpicked through the process on Saturday evening in New Delhi,was forced to step down this morning as a section of the Congress leaders in Kerala protested against the move on the eve of the general elections.
Caving in an effort to limit the damage ahead of the polls,the Congress central leadership allowed T Siddique to continue as the Youth Congress president.
It is the second time in recent days that Rahul has had to revoke a decision shortly after announcing it. A few weeks back,he had to remove Chandan Yadav as Bihar Youth Congress president barely five days after he was appointed to the post.
Youth Congress president Ashok Tanwar,however,told The Indian Express that Lijus appointment was revoked in view of a procedural error as it had not been approved by the AICC. Youth Congress leaders also claim that the appointment had not been cleared by Rahul,who is in charge of the youth wing of the party,and therefore,it was revoked.
Sources,however,questioned the official explanation,saying that Rahul was very much involved in Lijus appointment and that he had come through the talent hunt exercise.
The abrupt removal of Liju has also brought to the fore the rivalries within the Congress in Kerala. Siddique is believed to have been backed by former chief minister Oommen Chandy,while Liju belongs to Kerala PCC president Ramesh Chennithalas camp.
As part of the talent hunt,17 Youth Congress leaders,including Liju,were asked to report in Delhi. Liju,a general secretary,was handpicked from among five shortlisted aspirants.
But the Congress had to beat a hasty retreat as state leaders led by Chandy objected to the decision to strip Siddique off the post at this stage and even threatened protests on the streets.
According to party sources,Chandy told the Central leadership that Siddiques removal would send the wrong message to the Muslim community ahead of the polls. Siddique is one of the front runners for a party ticket in the coming elections.
However,others said Chandy over-reacted. Oommen Chandy should not have taken up the cudgels for Siddique. The AICC was well apprised of Siddiques alleged links with certain fringe Muslim organisations (including the controversial SIMI). His removal would not have created any ripples, said a senior leader.