STATE

Is it the beginning of the end of Oommen Chandy era in Congress’ Kerala unit? 

Express News Service

KOTTAYAM:  As the brouhaha over the final list of new Congress district presidents, announced with the consent of the party central leadership on Saturday night, continues, a major question emerging in the political circles of Kerala is: Is it the beginning of the end of Oommen Chandy era?

With the Congress state leadership completing the process of selecting the new DCC presidents, Chandy appeared to have lost his clout for the first time since he emerged as the unquestionable leader of the party in Kerala from the middle of 1990s. 

Chandy, who had been the trusted lieutenant of A K Antony in Congress politics in the 1970s and 1980s, came to the frontline of group politics by launching an open fight against mighty Karunakaran in the early 1990s.

Chandy, who resigned from the post of finance minister in the Karunakaran government in 1994 over party restructuring, later played a crucial role in bringing Karunakaran down from power after the ISRO espionage row erupted.

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The Chandy era commenced when he succeeded in bringing Antony as the chief minister following the resignation of Karunakaran in 1995.

Since then, Chandy has remained the strongest leader in the state Congress politics and has been the final word in the party, right from deciding KPCC office-bearers and DCC presidents to the restructuring of lower committees. 

After becoming the CM for the first time in 2004 and the ensuing ouster of Karunakaran and his son K Muraleedharan from the party, Chandy never had to face a rival of his stature.

Even after Murali’s return, Chandy continued his hegemony and dared to question even the high command’s decisions during his second term as the chief minister in 2011-16.

However, for the first time in his political career, Chandy is facing a major setback with the new leadership led by K Sudhakaran and V D Satheesan completely sidelining him in selecting the new district presidents. 

“There is no doubt that Chandy is the big loser in this game. Though Chandy distanced himself from suggesting any names to the DCC president post, the state leadership with the blessings of high command trapped him into becoming a part of the process. Finally, Chandy had to admit that Nattakom Suresh was his nominee for president post in Kottayam,” said a Congress leader on condition of anonymity.

Though as many as six new DCC presidents belong to ‘A’ group, none of them were elected with Chandy’s recommendation, but with the support of the new state leadership.

“Moreover, the last-minute removal of Philson Mathews, a member of the Jacobite community, from the final list in Kottayam, will definitely hit Chandy hard as the community has distanced itself from the Congress. Above all, the Congress leadership has also succeeded in creating an image that Chandy’s strength is confined to only Kottayam district,” said the leader.

With age and health condition creating a major hindrance to his comeback, the prospects of ‘A’ group appear to be bleak.

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