Chandy faction sore over Congress revamp in Kerala

Thiruvananthapuram, Dec 17 (IANS) The Oommen Chandy faction of the Congress party’s Kerala unit on Saturday expressed its unhappiness over the way the party high command has been handling the affairs of the state unit.

Party’s Kerala unit Vice President and former state minister M.M. Hassan, speaking to reporters on Saturday, pointed out that the manner in which the high command went about naming the 14 district party chiefs last week was not in keeping with the normal practice.

“When the list came out, it became very clear that one faction had been given the upper hand and this has been brought to the notice of the high command also,” said Hassan.

Congress politics in Kerala has always revolved around two or more groups led by senior leaders.

The legendary factional feud in the state unit, which began soon after the Emergency was declared in the country and lasted until the early 2000s, centred around K. Karunakaran and A.K. Antony.

However, all through, Karunakaran had the last laugh.

But after 2004, when Chandy took over as the Chief Minister from Antony, for all practical purposes, Chandy reigned supreme, with the other faction led by Chennithala always playing second fiddle.

However, after the rout of the Chandy-led UDF in the May 2016 assembly polls, he went into a shell and Chennithala appeared to emerge as the new leader.

When the District Congress Committee presidents were being named, Chandy got just three, while Chennithala managed close to eight, and the rest were taken by the close aides of state party chief V.M. Sudheeran.

Among the three top leaders here, Chandy is the one, who unlike the other two, does not have much support in Delhi.

Earlier this week, Chandy expressed his displeasure by not travelling to Delhi along with other party legislators to join a protest rally against demonetisation.

Ever since Sudheeran was appointed as the state party chief in 2014, much against the wishes of a huge majority of the state leaders, Chandy has been keeping aloof from the party high command.

His relations with the high command took a further dip when he was snubbed by the latter by denying his closest aide Benny Behanan, a sitting legislator, the seat to contest the polls which he had won the last time.

But Chennithala, knowing fully well the huge ground support that Chandy enjoys across the state as the most popular leader of the party, said that even he (Chennithala) is also not happy with the revamp.

“It was Chandy who had first suggested that we all should stage a protest in Delhi, but later due to a pressing engagement, he had to cancel the Delhi trip,” said Chennithala.

Meanwhile, sources close to Chandy revealed that he is playing the wait-and-watch game and is in no hurry to make any moves.

–IANS

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