THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Confusion prevailed over the selection of the Congress legislative party (CLP) leader as the party’s high command has delayed the announcement again, allegedly owing to pressure tactics employed by leaders of different factions in the state.
While a section of Congress MPs have demanded for a generational shift, it is learnt incumbent Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala has asked central leaders close to party president Sonia Gandhi to support him as the opposition leader.
Sources said Chennithala has sent missives to Ghulam Nabi Azad, Kamal Nath, P Chidambaram and Mukul Wasnik. It is also reliably learnt that Congress working committee leader A K Antony has favoured neither Chennithala nor senior Congress MLA V D Satheesan as the CLP leader. Satheesan, who has claimed the support of 12 of the 21 MLAs, also has the backing of K C Venugopal, national general secretary (organisation).
Chandy ready to become state Congress chief
Though central observers Mallikarjun Kharge and V Vaithilingam returned on Tuesday itself after overseeing the CLP meeting, the delay in the announcement by the high command has given adequate time for both Oommen Chandy and Chennithala for hectic lobbying in favour of the latter.
Rumours are also rife that Chandy has expressed his desire to become the state Congress president which has raised eyebrows. Reports coming from New Delhi reveal that the central leadership has been caught off guard with the way in which the two factional leaders have joined hands. This has antagonised not only the MLAs, but also a section of the MPs and majority of the office-bearers as group politics has always been the bane of the party.
MPs K Muraleedharan and Rajmohan Unnithan have openly criticised the party leadership and hinted their support for Satheesan.According to sources, Chennithala and Chandy have also put forth a formula before the high command that they are ready to take up the responsibility of reviving the party in time for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
“It is surprising that Chandy expressed willingness to become the state Congress president if Chennithala would continue in office. Their only agenda is that Satheesan should not become the CLP leader,” a senior Congress leader told TNIE.