Oomen Chandy sulks as Antony proposes Chennithala to CWC
Congress, after a series of electoral reverses is trying to effect changes in organisational structure. The appointment of Kamal Nath as general secretary in charge of Punjab has already triggered a political controversy.
Down south, in Kerala where party was humbled another crisis seems to be staring in the face of the party.
Trouble erupted when Antony piloted a generation change in the the party.
This was a break from the past.
From the late 1970s, Congress politics in Kerala revolved around two personalities- the redoubtable late K Karunakaran and the then young turk A K Antony.
Though new leaders like Oomen Chandy (72), Remesh Chennithala (60), V M Sudheeran(68) has emerged, the fratricidal fight between those who owe allegiance to both these leaders, marked/ punctuated/ defines the history of Congress party in the state for many years.
After the drubbing it got in last month’s Assembly election, the talk of a reshuffle has dominated the party.
A recommendation made by the Antony, who is a key adviser of Sonia Gandhi is what is rattling the Kerala leadership for now.
It is learnt that Antony has proposed Chennithala’s name for Congress Working Committee (CWC). This has irked former chief minister Oomen Chandy.
Chandy and Chennithala represents two factions in the KPCC.
Apart from Antony, former union minister Vayalar Ravi is the other CWC working member from Kerala. The latter is not active now a days, due to health issues.
Though Chandy, is senior and has been chief minister twice before, Antony’s move to push Chennithala into the CWC has piqued many.
Chandy was the most belligerent fighter of the Antony faction. Many a times it was Chandy who led the onslaught against Karunakaran, at the behest of Antony. The sustained campaign led to the resignation of the Karunakaran in the aftermath of the ISRO spy case in 1994
Antony it is said does not want another Christian to be included in the highest decision making body of the party. But ever since Chandy became the chief minister, the relation between two leaders have strained.
Though Antony wants to maintain communal equation, the real reason behind his move to push Chennithala could be due to the chill between him and Chandy.
This is not the first time Antony has neutralised Chandy. Two years ago he was successful in anointing V M Sudheeran as the president of the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC), a move opposed by Chandy and Chennithala.
While the duo were on the same page on many organisational issues, party chief Sudheeran was ploughing a lone furrow, of course with the tacit support of Antony.
Sources close to Chandy say he refused to be the leader of the legislative party in protest against Antony’s move to install Chennithala in the CWC. This could also be behind his reported move to relinquish the post of the United Democratic Front (UDF) chairman.
Chennithala was in the national leadership of the Youth Congress and later as All India Congress Committee (AICC) Secretary.
He has as good relations with a number of central leaders than Chandy. This also weighs in his favour in his attempt to be the most important Congress leader in the state after A K Antony.
Though he may be able to canvass support from the central leadership and the powerful Antony, how much the faction ridden KPPC will root for him or show allegiance to him remains to be seen.