Congress leaders differ on Kerala unit’s organisational revamp

Thiruvananthapuram, Sep 21 (IANS) Two rival factions headed respectively by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala in the Kerala unit of the Congress appear bent on thwarting its president V.M. Sudheeran’s plan for an organisational revamp ahead of the local body elections in November.

Sudheeran was in political hibernation after his shock defeat in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections, but got a shot in the arm when Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi nominated him to head the state unit of the party.

And ever since, his every attempt to gain an upper hand in state party affairs has been effectively shot down by the rival factions.

The two factions came together after Sudheeran slashed a list of office-bearers of the Wayanad District Congress Committee that was shared between the two groups.

When Sudheeran put his foot down and insisted on having the final say, the two factions said the revamp should be put on hold till November.

Sudheeran has not agreed to the suggestion since he feels that a new set of party office-bearers would provide the much needed impetus for contesting the elections to the local bodies.

“The coming local body polls are very crucial for the Congress-led United Democratic Front. Hence, all attention and energy has to be put in the polls; the party revamp can wait till the local body elections are over in November,” state Culture Minister K.C. Joseph, a close aide of Chandy, told reporters in Kottayam on Monday.

The State Election Commission has announced local body polls before Sabarimala temple pilgrimage season that begins on November 17.

K. Muraleedharan, son of veteran Congress leader K. Karunakaran and a senior leader of the Chennithala faction, also said on Monday that the state Congress revamp could wait.

“We have to hit the (local body) elections campaign at the earliest; a seat-sharing between UDF allies has to be concluded, and then comes the selection of candidates. We thus do not have time to concentrate on an organisational revamp. It can be done once the polls are over,” Muraleedharan told reporters here.

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