Kerala Units Keep High Command On the Edge

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has never been in the good books of the Congress high command.

Published: 27th March 2016 06:13 AM  |   Last Updated: 27th March 2016 06:13 AM   |  A+A-

NEW DELHI:  BJP president Amit Shah will always remember the Kerala unit of his party regardless of its political fortunes, for bringing out the worst in him. Shah always loses his cool whenever he deals with the faction-ridden unit. Obedience, apparently, is not one of the virtues of Kerala leaders cutting across party lines.

“They simply don’t listen, not even to the party president, despite the fact that the party is yet to get a single seat there,’’ a party office-bearer informs Express. “Only after some real hard talk they agreed to accept the tie-up with the political party floated by the Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam (SNDP), a strong OBC community,’’ he says.

In Kerala, the writ from the Central leadership of political parties is never welcome. “The State is such a headache,’’ says a national-level Congress leader who was once in charge of his party’s unit there. He claims Kerala is a unique State due to its political history and the powerful presence of minority communities. “We have to employ unique political strategies to handle such a State,” he adds.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has never been in the good books of the Congress high command.

Neither Sonia Gandhi nor Rahul have a soft corner for him. But Chandy doesn’t care. “Chandy does not need the high command but the high command needs Chandy,’’ explains a Congress leader.

CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, despite being a master tactician, gets the same treatment. The State unit cares two hoots for those who sit in AKG Bhavan and discuss national and international ideological issues.

This was especially so during the tenure of former party general secretary Prakash Karat.

“Kerala CPI(M) is the richest unit of the party in terms of membership and money. It is the only State where it has a chance of coming to power, and the State leadership knows it,’’ says a former CPI(M) Central Committee member.

Similar to Chandy, the probable chief ministerial  candidate of CPI(M) Pinarayi Vijayan owes nothing to the Karats or Yechurys.

“The unique aspect of Kerala leaders is that they all have come up fighting against all odds within and outside their parties. They are not anybody’s stooges. Hence it will be tough for any power centre to control them,’’ says Sudhir Ranjan, a Kerala politics specialist.

According to him, this is because of Kerala’s “Left mind”. “In Kerala, even a rightist party like the BJP has to speak the language of the Left. Rebellion is part of its lingo,’’ he says. “Even Amit Shah has to speak a different language there.”

Shah had a taste of this rebellion last week. The Kerala State leadership of the BJP, which is yet to accept the tie-up with BDJS, announced the primary list of party candidates without getting it vetted by the Central leadership.

“The BJP president was shocked. He was fuming when they came two days later to get his approval. But by then the damage was done,’’ informs a BJP leader. Shah had to give in to the State leadership as they had started working in the constituencies.

The Congress high command did not dare to recommend more than a handful of names to the candidates’ list. “No high command has any command in Kerala. Even if they push aggressively for names, the State leadership will ensure that they lose,” said a Congress leader who lost the previous Assembly election.


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