The controversy related to the change in leadership and Rajya Sabha seat paving way for a flare-up in the Congress faction in Kerala is not something that is unexpected or extraordinary.
The reason is that it is about the Congress. Any mass-based organization that has passed an eventful and intricate thirteen decades can undergo decay. What is surprising is that in Indian politics, where it is quite common for even two-member parties to split into two, the state faction of a national party lined up with people belonging to diverse religions, language and cultural segments and lacking firm rooting and stability even for name continues as the main opposition even now. If experience is such that things do not go smoothly and systematically even in parties which claim an ideological base, cadre structure and regimental discipline, in a mob party without any such claims, factionalism, bickering and disputes over positions can only be termed natural. That being so, the Fascist forces who challenge the secular democratic foundation of India are bracing up for a second term in power, making the entire nation insecure and apprehensive. Even then, the matter of concern is how the Congress which is deemed the only national party capable of saving democracy and secularism from the ultimate catastrophe, could behave recklessly jeopardizing even its own survival.
The Chengannur Assembly bypoll in Kerala is the backdrop of the sudden flare-up. In all the 10 panchayats and the only municipality in the constituency, not only did the Congress candidate lag behind, but to be considered is also the fact that Chengannur is one of the stable constituencies where the party had emerged victorious in all the previous elections except in the last Assembly poll. The LDF candidate won with a majority of almost three times the votes of the previous time. That was the reason why nobody in the UDF had words to justify or trivialize the failure. The Congress leadership, alongside admitting the failure on its own, also points out that everybody is responsible for the debacle. It is when the state leaders are yet to begin talks in the presence of the AICC president about the matter, that sharp criticisms have been raised against the leaders in the party’s mouthpiece. Also the youth wing of the Congress has fired a shot against the senior leadership.
It is noteworthy that the march against the leadership takes place even when any kind of criticisms about the party’s ideology, goals or policies have not been raised at the internal level. That is, the youth wing points fingers against shackling the Congress into an old age home. And the provocation for that is the move to field P J Kurien, a three-time Rajya Sabha member in the only Rajya Sabha seat that has become vacant. There is also controversy regarding who should replace the interim figure as the KPCC president. Further, there is a demand to substitute a senior and ailing leader with a competent person for the post of UDF Convener. On the other hand, the seniors holding on to all these posts have not yet been convinced of their ineligibility and incompetence. Their response is such that they are still capable of yet another combat. Perhaps the relief is that the Congress is not the only party suffering from the malaise in which once a leader gets a post, he can think only of a still higher position, but never about abdicating it.
On the contrary, when there is only a year left before the Lok Sabha elections, what the leaders and workers should have thought about is revamping the whole organization and revitalizing it. For that, the first thing needed is to liberate the organization from factionalism which has swallowed the whole organization. But everyone indulging in factionalism is of the mind-set that if the group ceases to exist, he too will cease to exist. It was a paradox that when the national leadership brought in VM Sudheeran to re-organize the party above factionalism, all groups were united in the fight to drive him away! Probably convinced that his mission would not find success, Sudheeran quit his post without waiting for an ouster. Now even after a year, the party is still at a loss as to who and of which faction, can be installed in the seat of president. Soon we will come to know if Rahul Gandhi has that magical skill to identify a president and other office-bearers without disturbing by even a fraction, the cast-community-group equations in the party. Irrespective of who is appointed and to which post, without the full backing and co-operation of the party at large, the possibility of the whole of Kerala becoming a Chengannur for the party cannot be ruled out. All one can humbly appeal to the handloom-wearing leaders carrying portraits of Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi, is to at least avert a situation of the Congress continuing with its status quo in the 17th Lok Sabha and without being even a recognized Opposition.