We have settled most of our differences: Kerala PCC chief K Sudhakaran
Last week, the Congress unit in Kerala plunged into a crisis after the release of the district office-bearers (DCC presidents) list was announced--it triggered public outbursts by several Congress leaders and a series of disciplinary actions followed. Party state president K Sudhakaran MP, a strongman from Communist heartland Kannur, in an interview with HT’s Ramesh Babu, said he is confident that everything will be settled soon, but insisted that discipline is paramount. Edited excerpts
Congress in Kerala is in the news for all the wrong reasons. How long will the present stalemate continue?
There is no big crisis here as portrayed by the media. In a democratic party like the Congress, it is natural that differences crop up, as is the present case. But discipline is paramount in the party. We have settled most of our differences. Leader of Opposition VD Satheesan had called on senior leaders Oommen Chandy, Ramesh Chennithala and Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan to iron out the wrinkles. I also met them. Since we settled everything, AICC general secretary Tariq Anwar does not need to visit the state now.
We will hear seniors’ [grievances] properly. There is no question of any neglect or step-motherly attitude. Our aim is to strengthen the party and turn it into a well-oiled machine. A strong party is the need of hour.
Can we call it a generational shift?
The new leadership is a proper blend of fresh blood and experienced leaders--we need new ideas, mode and direction. It doesn’t mean seniors leaders will have to take a back-seat. The new team will take a leaf out of their rich experience to reinvigorate the party. The party is supreme and factions can take rest now. Senior leader Oommen Chandy said a couple of days back in Kottayam that the party is first, groups are second.
You said the party will be semi-cadre soon. How you are planning it? Any plan to attract more youth?
Yes, we will transform it to a new party in six months. It will be a semi-cadre outfit and you can see the difference soon. We will select 2,500 committed cadre--1,000 from Youth Congress and 1,500 from our trade wing INTUC. We will train and groom them. We have to attract more youth. There will be special drives at the grassroots and leaders will oversee them. All office-bearers will have to submit a performance report periodically. These posts are not showpieces--they will have to work on the ground. We will spot exceptional people and groom them. We have to strengthen our student and youth outfits. In 1970s and 1980s, a surge of youth leaders catapulted the party to new highs in the state. We need a similar move. The Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Development Studies in the state capital started regular workshops for them. The new DCC chiefs will also attend such workshop. The party will have a new look and vigour and this will be visible in six months.
What do you think of the state’s tackling of the pandemic?
I don’t have to say anything in detail--records tell the tale. The state continues to report over 65% of the total Covid-19 cases in the country. Another deadly threat of Nipah has also emerged. This is the third time Nipah cases have emerged--no serious study on the virus has been done. Even the source of the first outbreak in 2018 is still a mystery. My humble request to the government is to hear experts more and avoid politics. The state has the best health infrastructure in the country; despite this we are in a sorry state now. Inept handling and race for cheap publicity landed the government in such a mess. Hope the CM will realise his follies at least now and correct them.
There are charges that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is taking the Congress’ space in the state. Do you agree?
It is a baseless question. A desperate BJP has tried its best to widen its base but its lone account (a single MLA in the last assembly) was also closed. We played a vital role in that. Among all state units, BJP has the weakest one in Kerala--it doesn’t have a proper leader and infighting rules supreme.
What we witness these days is a secret understanding between the ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist) and BJP. What happened to gold and dollar smuggling cases? High-profile probes stopped abruptly after the CM’s right-hand man was grilled. The Lavalin case (in which CM Pinarayi Vijayan’s name allegedly cropped up) was deferred 28 times in court and most at the initiative of the probe agency (CBI).In return, the CM is protecting state BJP leaders in highway heist and hawala cases (snatching of alleged fund meant for BJP electioneering in Thrissur in last April). The CPI(M)’s Congress-‘mukt’ Kerala will remain a dream. I am sure people will expose this unholy alliance.
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