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All who smile are not friends, Chennithala tells Sudhakaran

‘No one defended my when I was accused of being pro-BJP’

Former Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala seemed to strike an emotionally candid tone at a public function marking the elevation of K. Sudhakaran, MP, as Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president on Wednesday.

Mr. Chennithala said none had come to his defence when political detractors attempted to portray him as a proponent of Hindu right-wing majoritarian politics. “They accused me of being the ideological echo chamber of the BJP in Kerala. I had no one to defend me,” he said.

Mr. Chennithala also seemed not to hide his bitterness at being not notified in advance of the party’s decision to remove him from the post of Leader of the Opposition. He appeared to obliquely suggest that behind-the-scenes manoeuvring by former loyalists had led to his alleged sidelining.

Piece of advice

Seemingly under the guise of advice to Mr. Sudhakaran, Mr. Chennithala said: “You will be mistaken if you think that those who praise you or smile at you are your friends. I hope Mr. Sudhakaran will learn lessons from my experience,” Mr. Chennithala said.

He staunchly defended Mr. Sudhakaran’s track record as a Congressman moored to Gandhian and Nehruvian ideology. Mr. Sudhakaran had come up in Congress the hard way. He has never wavered ideologically. Congress workers should unite behind the KPCC president. The party should act collectively and not as a group of conflicting power centres, Mr. Chennithala said.

Summoned to Delhi

Meanwhile, the Congress high command has summoned Mr. Chennithala to New Delhi, triggering speculation that the party would give him some responsibilities at the national level.

Mr. Sudhakaran, who assumed charge, said the CPI(M) had always sought to undermine his standing among minorities by accusing him of being a BJP sympathiser. Their ploy had failed time and again. Mr. Sudhakaran said the Congress would come back to power.

Leader of the Opposition V.D. Satheeshan said failure was a stepping stone to victory. Congress workers should not lose heart. Former KPCC president Mullappally Ramachandran and former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy also spoke.

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