The Congress called the strike in support of the 12-point charter of demands that included proper health services at the Govind Ballabh Panth (GBP) hospital, the state’s lone dedicated Covid-19 hospital in Agartala and other Covid Care Centres, giving <span class='webrupee'>₹</span>10 lakh to the kin of Covid-19 victims and withdrawal of chief minister Biplab Kumar Deb’s anti-media remark. (Image used for representation).(HT PHOTO.)
The Congress called the strike in support of the 12-point charter of demands that included proper health services at the Govind Ballabh Panth (GBP) hospital, the state’s lone dedicated Covid-19 hospital in Agartala and other Covid Care Centres, giving 10 lakh to the kin of Covid-19 victims and withdrawal of chief minister Biplab Kumar Deb’s anti-media remark. (Image used for representation).(HT PHOTO.)

Congress high command summons 3 top Kerala leaders to Delhi

  • There are also reports that some of the slighted leaders like Professor KV Thomas were planning to leave the party.
By Ramesh Babu, Thiruvananthapuram
UPDATED ON JAN 17, 2021 08:47 PM IST

The Congress high command has summoned three top Kerala leaders - state president Mullapally Ramachandran, former chief minister Oommen Chandy and opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala, to Delhi on Monday to discuss the recent local body debacle and possible re-jig in the state unit ahead of the crucial assembly elections due in April-May.

The high command was quite upset with the poll outcome and rushed AICC general secretary Tariq Anwar to the state twice and he met many including leaders of allies. After the poll setback, many leaders had questioned faction feud, differences among top leaders, selection of candidates and the party’s understanding with the Welfare Party, a political outfit of Jammat-e-Islami in north Kerala.

They warned the leadership that if the situation continued, the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) will suffer another humiliation in the assembly election. Party strongman from Kannur, K Sudhakaran MP, Kozhikkode MP K Muralidharan and former vice-chairman of Rajya Sabha PJ Kurian had sought a major surgery in the party to stem the tide.

There are also reports that some of the slighted leaders like Professor KV Thomas, former Union minister who was denied a ticket in last Lok Sabha election, were planning to leave the party. “If you want to thrive in the party you should be part of a group in Kerala. There is no future for leaders like us who are out of group confines,” said Thomas adding that he will announce his decision on January 28.

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After the debacle, the central leadership has asked the state unit to submit a list of district Congress presidents and others who will have to be removed but the state unit is yet to hand over the list saying it will create more problems than solving any.

Three new AICC observers - Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot, former Goa CM Luizinho Faleiro and Karnataka leader G Parameswara - are expected to arrive in the state by next week. “Usually before the elections, the party leadership calls such meetings to gauge the ground situation,” said Chennithala after his arrival in Delhi.

For the Congress, Kerala is a crucial state, in the last Lok Sabha election the UDF had won 19 out of 20 seats. Going by the poll history of the state, where incumbents were never given continuation of power, it may be the turn of the UDF but local body results really worry the party. It failed to make use of mounting corruption charges, high-profile gold smuggling case and narcotic drug allegation against the son of a senior ruling party leader, the party feels.

Many youth and women leaders have also sought more representation to them. They cite the recent appointment of 21-year-old Arya Rajendran as the Mayor of prestigious Thiruvananthapuram Corporation by the ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist). But many old warhorses said winnability should be the sole criteria while selecting candidates and it should be a proper mix of seasoned and new leaders.

Like local body elections, the CPI(M) has decided to give maximum representation to youngsters to beat anti-incumbency factor and corruption charges against the government in assembly elections. Citing this, many Youth Congress leaders have sought due representation to youth and women. They feel party MP from Wayanad Rahul Gandhi will have a decisive say in the selection of candidates. The party is unlikely to project a leader but it may ask Chandy to take a proactive role in the election.

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