THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A day after the poll debacle, the floodgates of criticism have been unleashed within the Congress party. Amid the clamouring to overhaul the party right from the top, Ramesh Chennithala’s office has changed his media WhatsApp group from that of the Opposition Leader to his own name, hinting that he is likely to pass the baton to second rung leaders. Not all is well within the UDF allies either.
Taking a cue from K Babu, who has been elected from Tripunithura, other prominent leaders to blame the Congress leadership includes Shanimol Osman, who was defeated in Aroor, Idukki district president Ibrahimkutty Kallar, Dharmadom Congress candidate C Raghunath and Alappuzha district president M Liju, who has stepped down after his defeat in Ambalappuzha.
A large number of party leaders have already approached the Congress high command seeking a change of guard. While the central leadership continues their grim silence, only A K Antony has openly reacted, terming the drubbing “unexpected”. But the ball remains in the court of the central leadership on whether there will be an overhaul at the party and parliamentary party levels.
“Chennithala will step down from the Opposition Leader’s role,” senior Congress leader told TNIE.
“Once the parliamentary party meeting is convened, the new Opposition Leader will be chosen. The names mooted in party circles include Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, P T Thomas and V D Satheesan. It won’t be surprising if Chennithala is brought back as the Opposition Leader as he alone cannot be blamed for the defeat, particularly as he has an impeccable track record as the best Opposition Leader.”
Satheesan, who is recuperating after a bout of pneumonia, has huge acceptance among the rank and file of the party because of his expertise in handling complex issues with élan. Thiruvanchoor is the most senior leader after Oommen Chandy and Chennithala. Leaders like Raghunath have been clamouring for Kannur MP, K Sudhakaran, as the successor to Mullappally Ramachandran.
But it is doubtful whether the central Congress leadership will fall for that as a majority within the party does not agree to Sudhakaran’s “style of functioning”. On Monday, the three central Congress secretaries entrusted with overseeing the electioneering in the state returned to their states after being closeted with their general secretary (organization) K C Venugopal. The leadership has also not decided when to hold the high-powered Political Affairs Committee meeting and also the UDF meeting to take stock of the defeat.
Meanwhile, the RSP camp is also in turmoil as this is the second time in a row that they have been routed in the polls. While a section within the RSP wants the party to return to the Left fold, they allege N K Premachandran, MP, is against the move. He has his reasons to stay put, particularly as Chief Minister-designate Pinarayi Vijayan had come out with the “scoundrel” (paranaari) remark against him during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. The RSP had crossed over to the UDF fold after being denied a ticket.
ALAPPUZHA DCC PRESIDENT RESIGNS
Alappuzha: DCC president M Liju has resigned from the post in the wake of the defeat of the UDF in the district in the assembly elections. Liju submitted his resignation letter to KPCC president Mullappally Ramachandran on Monday. “I have resigned taking the responsibility for the party’s debacle in the election,” the letter said. The Congress, which had contested in eight seats in Alappuzha
lost seven. Only the Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala won in the district.