Infighting like a cancer in Kerala's Congress

Thiruvananthapuram, Oct 5 (IANS) If there's one thing in the Congress party in Kerala that has remained constant over the ages, it is the infighting. Today it has reached "cancerous levels", with even the party high command caught in a quandary.

The only difference in the party over the years is that the main actors involved have changed in the past one decade.

If in the yesteryears, the feud was mainly divided between K. Karunakaran and A.K. Antony, with the former always walking away with the honours on most occasions, in the past one decade it has been a fight between Oomen Chandy, currrently chief minister, and state Congress chief Ramesh Chennithala, with the former always winning hands down.

A senior Congress leader blamed the Congress high command for the present feud reaching a point of no return.

"The first mistake that the high command made was to allow Chennithala to contest the (April 2011) assembly polls. Two power centres were created and from then on started all the present problems," the Congress leader told IANS, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Chennithala, in the recent history of the party, is the longest serving president, having completed nine years. Given his stature, attempts to include him in Chandy's cabinet have not yielded any results - and this has now become the biggest stumbling block.

"On two occasions, Chennithala was given a raw deal on his portfolio should he be inducted in the Chandy cabinet. He should either be given the home portfolio or the deputy chief ministership. On more than two occasions, after first having been agreed upon, he was not given the promised slot and hence he has decided he will not become a minister under Chandy," a top Chennithala aide told IANS.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi's visit here last week saw hectic parleys within the two factions and even though Chandy's office is caught in the "solar scam" and a gold smuggling case - which became fodder for the Chennithala faction to take on Chandy - the good work done by his government appears to have helped him escape any major embarrassment.

"I am in Delhi not for any party-related issues but for other things to speed up governance," said Chandy, who is in Delhi, meeting with the party top brass and cabinet ministers over the weekend.

The Chennithala faction is now playing the waiting game as it expects that given the two issues, a bad outing in the 2014 Lok sabha polls could be curtains for Chandy, similar to what happened to Antony in the 2004 Lok sabha polls, when the Congress-led alliance could win just one of the 20 seats.

"Neither factions can get away from the present fiasco created by public outbursts that have come thick and fast in the past six months. If better sense prevails among the two factions, then they should stand united and if otherwise, it would be all over for the party in the state for a while," remarked a Congress leader who was pained to see the legendary infighting that has taken a heavy toll of the party over the years.

(Sanu George can be contacted at sanu.g@ians.in)

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