Muraleedharan, Mullappally front-runners to head Congress in Kerala

With the new chief of the Congress’ Kerala unit set to be named soon, sources in the know of things say veteran leader K Karunakaran’s son, K Muraleedharan, and senior leader Mullappally Ramachandran are among the front-runners.

“These two names (Muraleedharan and Ramachandran) have been zeroed in on and the announcement could well be made very soon. Today, a practice that has met with some success is the appointment of a President and a Working President in states. May be these two leaders could well be nominated for these two posts,” a senior party leader who did not want to be identified told IANS on Saturday.

After V M Sudheeran quit as President in a jiffy last year, M M Hassan was first asked to officiate and then was given the post till the party high command zeroed in on a suitable candidate.

The Congress’ Kerala unit was for several decades deeply divided between Karunakaran and former Defence Minister A K Antony and an unwritten practice was that when Karunakaran was Chief Minister, the post of the state chief was given to the Antony faction and vice versa.

In 2001, when Antony took over as Chief Minister, Thennala Balakrishna Pillai moved out to accommodate Muraleedharan as the party president.

But after 2004, things changed with Oommen Chandy taking over from Antony and Ramesh Chennithala becoming the president and since then it was these two leaders who head the two major factions in the party.

Things, however, changed when the party high command surprised everyone by nominating Sudheeran as the new president in 2014, much to the displeasure of the two factions. Many in the party believed this was a wrong move and the relation between Sudheeran and Chandy worsened and is also held to be a cause in the party’s defeat in the 2016 assembly polls.

After Rahul Gandhi took over as Congress President, he tried to end the power of group leaders, but his moves met strong resistance as both Chandy and Chennithala strongly opposed it.

According to a senior party leader, Gandhi appears to have been convinced by these two state leaders that yet another experiment could be disastrous for the party.

Of the present probables, while Muraleedharan is acceptable to both Chandy and Chennithala and also enjoys a sizeable following, Ramachandran has the full blessings of the party high command, even though he does not enjoy much of a support either among the leadership of the party here, nor the cadres.

“Well, in our party you never know, just like Sudheeran who was in political wilderness was made the party chief in 2014, there could be a dark horse too and one such leader is K. Sudhakaran,” said the senior leader.

He however warned any wrong move would impact the party’s future in the state.

(IANS)

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