Ending days of suspense and uncertainties, the Congress high command on Tuesday appointed party heavyweight and Lok Sabha member K. Sudhakaran as the president of the Kerala state unit. The politically significant decision came amid the loud call for a generation change in the party and a total rehaul after the party’s debacle in the state elections when the Left Democratic Front won a rare second consecutive term.
With the announcement of Sudhakaran as the KPCC chief, the Congress High Command is preparing for a major change in Kerala as it wants to bring the party above group politics. The state unit has long been ridden by factionalism with two main groups dictating terms for decades.
The AICC directed Sudhakaran for a total revamp in the party in six months. There will be a drastic change in all the jumbo committees in KPCC. There will be changes in fourteen District Committees and will also be a significant reduction in the number of members in district committees. Also, the agreement between Sudhakaran and the high command is that all office bearers should be given a target and it should be evaluated at regular intervals.
The High Command interventions are primarily based on the reports by senior Congress leader Thariq Anwar, who is the AICC General Secretary in charge of Kerala. Also, a five-member group headed by former Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan to evaluate the party’s performance in the just-concluded assembly polls had reported the high command holding the group-based internal politics responsible for the poor electoral performance.
The party also appointed three working presidents — K Suresh, P T Thomas and T Siddique — in the revamped PCC.
The appointment of Sudhakaran is apparently a continuation of the changes the party has been affecting after the election when VD Satheesan was picked as the leader of the Opposition in the Assembly turning down the calls for Ramesh Chennithala. It is also reported that the high command will take the initiative in trying to reconcile the leaders who were upset over the announcements of the opposition leader and KPCC chief.
Rahul Gandhi has informed Sudhakaran that he should move forward only after taking into confidence senior leaders.
Responding to his appointment as the party chief Suhakaran had said that they would endeavour to bring the party together beyond groups. “It’s a huge responsibility but I want to say that I will make all efforts to take the party forward by maintaining total unity,” he told reporters.
His first attempt would be to keep Ramesh Chennithala and Oommen Chandy together. The two predominant factions, the I group and A group is led by Chennithala and Oommen Chandy respectively. There are indications that K V Thomas may be made UDF convener.
Lok Sabha member from Kannur, Sudhakaran, is better known as an arch-rival of chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan who belongs to the same district.
The Congress-led United Democratic Front could only bag 41 seats in the 140-member assembly in the recently-held elections. The Left Democratic Front led by CPIM bagged 99 to retain powere for the first time in the history of the state.