Congress mulling over leadership change in Kerala

The State leadership has been facing mounting demands for their immediate ouster or leave office for the downfall of the party in the Assembly polls.

After being roundly criticised for its rickety organisational structure, the All India Congress Committee is contemplating a change of guard including replacing the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president Mullappally Ramachandran as well as Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Ramesh Chennithala.

The State leadership has been facing mounting demands for their immediate ouster or leave office for the downfall of the party in the Assembly polls. Never before the Congress party has been electorally routed in recent times.

The party won 21 seats this time, one less than in the 2016 Assembly polls. However, its popular vote-share moderately improved to 25.12% from 23.80%than last time. This has been attributed to the increase in the number of seats the party contested: 93 against 87.

Sources said that the organisational revamp from the top would strengthen the mandalam and booth committees and bring in a coordinated mechanism in the party. The debilitated apparatus had resulted in the failure of the party leadership to chalk out a strategy for the Assembly elections.

A senior party functionary said no proper organisational poll had been held after 1991. Thus, many young leaders fed-up with the existing system of coterie attached to some leaders occupying posts in the KPCC and the District Congress Committee had remained dormant or left the party, he said, asking “when was the last time party men could recollect participating in a camp, a convention and study classes.”

Of the reasons for resounding defeat of the Congress in the recent poll, many leaders point out was the wrong choice of candidates in several Assembly constituencies. Even grassroot-level activists were unable to identify and establish the credentials of the contenders, the sources said.

Already the Congress leadership has come round to the view that its daring move to field K. Muraleedharan, Vadakara, MP in Nemom, backfired. The party lost its Hindu votes in other segments and also failed to receive expected minority votes. Besides, Mr. Muraleedharan, who was touted as a giant-killer had to endure snubbing from local Congress leaders during electioneering in Thiruvanathapuram. He finished a poor third after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate Kummanam Rajasekharan.

“The party gave undue importance and unnecessary focus on Nemom as if the BJP did not field candidates in other segments. The Congress retained the Palakkad seat defeating technocrat E. Sreedharan one of the tallest candidates in that party. Likewise, the BJP State president K. Surendran could not win from Manjeswaram. A reasonably good candidate would have been suited for Nemom as well, “ K. Sudhakaran, Congress MP, told The Hindu on Thursday.

He also suspected that the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the BJP might have worked out a clandestine understanding in the Assembly polls. “The agenda of the BJP is to seize power in the State in 2031. However, one solace for the Congress party is that the BJP could not win a single seat. If the BJP had won a few seats, some leaders would have deserted the party by now, ” Mr. Sudhakaran said.

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