Internal rumblings get louder in Congress

Senior party leaders being sidelined, alleges K. Muraleedharan

Internal rumblings have become louder in the Congress after the party failed to retain power in the Kochi Corporation.

Senior Congress leader K. Muraleedharan, MP, fired the first salvo by accusing district leaders of failing to recognise the writing on the wall.

Mr. Muraleedharan, also a former KPCC president, took a dig at Hibi Eden, MP, who contested the Parliament election after being elected as legislator from the Ernakulam Assembly constituency.

It was by denying sitting MP K.V. Thomas a seat to contest that Mr. Eden was brought in to contest. The Assembly bypoll that followed witnessed the majority of the party plummeting to around 3,000 votes from the earlier 22,000 votes, he said at a press conference in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday.

He alleged that many senior leaders were sidelined and the party affairs were being controlled by a few. Tickets were denied to eligible candidates, forcing them to contest as rebels. Party leaders are now after rebels, as the UDF lacked the required numbers in the council. The rebels are likely to support the ruling LDF, and it was likely to come to power in Kochi and Thrissur corporations, he observed.

Interestingly, those close to Mr. Thomas too echoed the sentiments aired by Mr. Muraleedharan.

Prof. Thomas, who enjoyed popular support in many parts of Ernakulam, especially the coastal villages of Chellanam and Kumbalanghi and the West Kochi region, was kept out of the local body election scene, and many of his supporters were denied seats. The inept handling of the political situation in the district led to the debacle in polls, they said.

At the same time, Mr. Eden said he wished not to comment against Mr. Muraleedharan, as he was too small a fry for him.

However, Mr. Eden said he contested the Parliament election as demanded by both the ‘I’ and ‘A’ factions in the party, as the CPI(M) fielded P. Rajeev in the constituency. “As in the case of Mr. Muraleedharan and Mr. Adoor Prakash, it was the Congress leadership that asked me to contest,” he said.

Though the party lost the two Assembly seats held by Mr. Muraleedharan and Mr. Prakash, the Congress won the Ernakulam Assembly seat, he said.

Kochi Corporation

Mr. Eden said the party candidates had won 31 seats in the Kochi Corporation election, braving the strong anti-incumbency factor. Party functionaries had to work hard to overcome the negative factors. The inner squabbles robbed the party of power in the Kochi Corporation. However, the party put up a good show in most local bodies in the district, he claimed.

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