Chennithala alleges move to sideline senior Congress leaders in Kerala

He flays attempts by party leadership to ignore dissent, raises voice for former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy

The simmering discontent over the selection of new presidents to the District Congress Committees (DCCs) came out in the open on Friday, with senior Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala hitting out at the move to sideline senior party leaders.

Inaugurating the swearing-in ceremony of Nattakom Suresh as president of the Kottayam DCC, Mr. Chennithala used the occasion to openly air grievances against the K. Sudhakaran-led dispensation. The disgruntled leader also criticized attempts by the party leadership to ignore voices of dissent, while also raising voice for Oommen Chandy, a leader long regarded as his bete noir.

“I am not saying that all decisions of the Congress should have been taken after consulting me. I am just a kaalana [inconsequential] member, but Oommen Chandy is the general secretary of the All India Congress Committee. Everybody has a responsibility to discuss matters relating to the organisation with him,” said Mr. Chennithala.

He also sought to dismiss the threat of party discipline wielded by the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) and noted, “If we are to consider the party discipline of those who are vociferously espousing the concept, one should think how many of these would have been with the Congress now.”

Senior leader and former Minister K.C. Joseph, an ally of the Oommen Chandy camp, too voiced his dissent over the leadership. “Discipline is not one-way traffic,” he said, pointing out the perceived apathy shown by the party leadership in initiating action against those running a defamation campaign against Mr. Chandy on social media.

He also hit out at attempts by a section to cast aspersions on Mr. Chennithala after the recent Assembly elections.

Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, MLA; Kodikkunnil Suresh, MP, and P.T. Thomas, MLA, were present. Mr. Chandy did not attend the function.

The selection of DCC presidents without consultations with Mr. Chennithala and Mr. Chandy has triggered a major change in group equations in the State unit of the party. The emergence of the new power axis has also created a vertical divide in the ‘A’ group, with leaders like Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan now siding with the State leadership.

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