THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: AICC general secretary KC Venugopal met reporters in New Delhi on Tuesday and denied reports that his insistence on including a couple of nominees was delaying the finalisation of the list of state office-bearers.
The unusual move by the leader followed widespread rumours among Congress rank and file that M P Vincent and U Rajeevan, former district Congress chiefs of Thrissur and Kozhikode, would find a place in the list, violating all norms.
Sources told TNIE that Venugopal had suggested accommodating Vincent and Rajeevan in the list though the norm was against naming past presidents of district committee. Venugopal wanted to use the relaxation given to Padmaja Venugopal and Bindu Krishna in the case of these leaders as well.
“The cases of Padmaja and Bindu were taken up to ensure fair representation of woman leaders. There was no point in relaxing that exemption further,” said a senior leader. The position taken by state Congress president K Sudhakaran and Opposition Leader V D Satheesan against relaxing norms to accommodate Vincent and Rajeevan is now set to diminish the chances of the woman leaders.
It is learnt that by Tuesday night, the senior leaders reached an understanding to stick to the criterion decided by the political affairs committee meeting. The effort is to finalise the list of 51-member state committee latest by Wednesday.
It is learnt Sudhakaran is not keen to listen to Venugopal’s demand as Vincent is one of the 97 leaders who have been served notice for the party’s dismal show in the recent assembly elections.
‘I wasn’t airdropped as a Congress leader overnight’
The decision not to include former presidents of district and state committees who had completed five years in the new committee was taken by Sudhakaran and Satheesan in consultation with Oommen Chandy and Ramesh Chennithala. But later, the state leadership decided to give exemption to former vice-president Padmaja Venugopal and former Kollam district chief Bindu Krishna.
“Now the names being considered under women’s quota are Ramani P Nair — former state secretary who had quit the post when a ticket was denied to her — and P K Jayalakshmi, former minister for welfare of backward communities,” a senior Congress leader told TNIE.
On Tuesday, Sudhakaran and Satheesan held two rounds of talks at Indira Bhavan. They also consulted Chandy and Chennithala as the state leadership is keen to ensure their support so that the confusion that followed the district chiefs’ appointment is not repeated. But Venugopal was visibly upset as his name was being dragged into the controversy on the delay factor which he suspects is the handiwork of the factional leaders.
“I was not airdropped as a Congress leader overnight. I did not make any undue interventions in the preparation of the draft list for the state committee. My role is to approve the list submitted by the state leadership and it is they who had decided the criterion,” Venugopal said in New Delhi.