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Search begins for new KPCC President

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Thiruvananthapuram: With V.M. Sudheeran stepping down as the President of the Congress party in Kerala on health grounds, the party faces tough times in selecting a new leader to the post. Sudheeran resigned on Friday.

Sudheeran's resignation comes at a time when the Congress is literally on a weak ground after the results of five state assembly polls came in on Saturday.

While Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, who is now the final word in the party, took a severe beating in Uttar Pradesh polls where he led the party campaign, the Congress victory in Punjab has now gone fully to Captain Amarinder Singh who single-handedly led the grand old party to a tumultuous victory.

"In politics, being realistic in decision making process is very crucial and gone are the times when the national leadership could thrust their decisions on state units. Today, one can't decide things sitting in Delhi as the ground reality is totally different," said a Congress leader on the condition of anonymity.

"The national leadership has literally failed to gauge what the situation is in Kerala, had they done proper homework, Sudheeran would not have become the President in 2014. Many in the party wish it does not repeat the mistake this time, when the new President would be selected," the leader said.

The state Congress party was controlled by K. Karunakaran and A. K. Antony for over three decades till the early 2000s, but things changed with the passing away of Karunakaran.

After Antony moved to Delhi in 2005, he was the last word that the national leadership banked on to make crucial decisions.

Selection of Sudheeran, naming of candidates to the May 2016 assembly polls and the revamp of the 14 district party chiefs was decided in Delhi.

Though seasoned politicians like veteran Oommen Chandy never uttered a word against the national leadership, they were clearly totally unhappy with it.

Ever since the shock defeat in 2016, Chandy has remained reclusive and treaded his own path. Chandy has already made his stand clear that he would not run for the post of the state President to succeed Sudheeran.

"The biggest drawback in the party today is that, even though there are capable leaders, there is not a single leader who has the stature and who enjoys the respectability of all Congressmen," another leader said.

"This was not the situation when Karunakaran, Antony, Chandy and to a certain extend Ramesh Chennithala led the party from the front. There is definitely a vacuum and how best and how fast the national leadership decides is going to be keenly watched," the leader said.

By now quite a few names have propped up, including those of P.T. Thomas, K. Muraleedharan, K. Sudhakaran and Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan.

"I have always been a loyal soldier of the party and have always abided by the party decisions. To become the state party President is anyone's ultimate," said Thomas, a sitting legislator who as the sitting Lok Sabha member from Idukki constituency then did not get to contest the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

"In two days' time the national leadership of the party will decide on the new state President," said Sudhakaran.

"The new President would be selected after looking into various issues," remarked Radhakrishnan.

But Muraleedharan -- son of Karunakaran and a former state President -- ruled himself out from the post.

"I wish to concentrate on parliamentary politics and hence I am not interested," said Muraleedharan.

Whosoever gets the nod will find the going tough as the party has to revive itself from the grassroots, which is not an easy task as the Congress is in power neither in the state nor at the Centre.

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