Debating India

KERALA

Congress recast in early January

Monday 25 December 2006, by MENON*Girish

Factionalism resumes in a small way; Moily arriving on Friday

Thiruvananthapuram: The much-awaited reconstitution of the Congress in Kerala will be completed by the first week of January.

The reconstitution will focus on the District Congress Committees (DCCs), with most of their presidents set to be replaced.

The size of the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) will also be cut, which is expected to create a lot of heartburn.

KPCC president Ramesh Chennithala and Leader of the Opposition Oommen Chandy have set the ball rolling for the reconstitution in the context of a series of defeats that the Congress had been suffering since 2004.

The move acquired speed after the Thiruvambadi byelection, which also saw the defeat of the party-led United Democratic Front.

The bypoll was held six months after the United Democratic Front lost power in the State following the drubbing it received in the Assembly elections.

All-India Congress Committee general secretary M. Veerappa Moily is expected to arrive in the State on Friday.

Mr. Moily said he would hold discussions with senior party leaders on the reconstitution.

Informal meetings

However, the process has set off quite a few apprehensions and resurfacing of factional activities in a small way.

Leaders who owed allegiance with the former Chief Minister K. Karunakaran, who is now in the Nationalist Congress Party, have been meeting off and on informally to work out a formula that will not deny them fair representation.

There are a few other leaders such as P.C. Chacko and M.I. Shanavas who are also in the fray to ensure their currency in Congress politics.

Mr. Moily said the party leadership would make every effort to accommodate all sections in the party.

Factional activities and pressures would not be considered this time, he added.

Differences

But there are indications that Mr. Moily differs with the Congress leadership in the State on the finer aspects of the reconstitution.

A section of the party leaders feel that his moves indicate an attempt to bridle the State leadership, and the reconstitution process may not be as easy as made out to be.

Mr. Chennithala and Mr. Chandy have frowned on the attempts to revive factionalism.

No to factionalism

Mr. Chandy said at a press conference recently that the party leadership would not tolerate factionalism any more.

The reconstitution was intended to strengthen the party.

Asked if he had changed his views that factionalism was always a strength of the Congress, Mr. Chandy said the factions had always upheld the interests of the party.

But there came a time when factions and factional leaders became more important than the party, he said, obliquely referring to the split in the party led by Mr. Karunakaran.

Despite the caution, the party cannot completely ignore factional roots of the leaders to be installed in the DCCs.

Due accommodation will have to be given to all the leaders who stood with the official leadership at various points of time before and after the Karunakaran split.

Malabar factor

The party leadership will have to seriously consider a formula to revive its fortunes in the Malabar region where it has lost out to the Nationalist Congress Party after the merger of the Democratic Indira Congress (Karunakaran) with it.

In the context of religious fundamentalism, the party leadership will have to think of attracting workers from the Muslim community and inducting a set of young Muslim leaders to initiate this process.

Over the years, the Congress party had yielded space to the Indian Union Muslim League in Muslim politics and not many youngsters have been joining the party.

According to sources, it was high time the Congress ended its dependence on tried leaders and took the corrective step.

See online : The Hindu

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