Congress looks for a Christian face

Party's search after Oommen Chandy's shift to the national leadership.

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Congress is in search of a charismatic Christian leader to fill the vacuum created by Mr Oommen Chandy's shift to the national scene. The Congress could for a long time balance the caste equations in the state as it had top leaders with mass appeal from all communities to take on the rival fronts. Mr Chandy had taken over from Mr A.K. Antony when he resigned as chief minister in 2004 and moved to the centre. When Mr K. Karunakaran left the Congress, Mr Ramesh Chennithala became the natural choice to head the 'I' group.

Who will succeed Mr Chandy, 74, who has been made AICC general secretary in charge of Andhra Pradesh remains a question mark. The other Christian leaders, Mr P.J. Kurien MP, 77, Mr K.V. Thomas, MP, 72, and Mr P.C. Chacko, 71, AICC general secretary in-charge of New Delhi, will not be able to step into the shoes of Mr Chandy, who is the unchallenged leader of the 'A' group and has a large support base in the state.

Opinions vary on why Mr Chandy was removed from the state scene. A section feels that the AICC leadership wanted to clip his wings. But others say that the decision came after he refused to take up any posts in the party following the debacle in the 2016 Assembly elections. "Chandy will not permanently move his base outside Kerala. He has to be in the state, especially to meet the people in his constituency and go to St. George Church at Puthupally on Sundays. None can replace the charisma and the mass appeal of Chandy," said a prominent 'A' group leader.

Unlike Mr Antony who ruffled the feathers of the IUML in 2004 with his controversial comment against the minorities which cost him his chief ministership, Mr Chandy has maintained good rapport with all the communities. The AICC had pressed him to take up the KPCC president post or become a Rajya Sabha MP. But Mr Chandy wants to continue in the state as he will celebrate the golden jubilee of becoming a legislator from Puthupally in two years. But rival factions say that Mr Chandy has been beleaguered ever since he lost the mandate in 2016. "Chandy may try to come back to power in the next Assembly elections," said an 'I' group leader.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
Next Story