New fissures in Cong. threatens unity

Senior leader K.V. Thomas has reportedly threatened to jump ship

New fissures in the Congress in Kerala seemed to imperil the semblance of unity beat into shape by the party’s national leadership ahead of the Assembly elections.

Senior Congress leader K.V. Thomas has reportedly threatened to jump ship. Mr. Thomas reportedly felt cold-shouldered and out of the loop. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] appeared eager to take advantage of the “insurgency” to score a propaganda victory over the Congress.

Its district secretary in Ernakulam, C.N. Mohanan, has hinted that the Left Democratic Front (LDF) would consider accommodating Mr. Thomas if he broke ranks with the Congress.

Mr. Thomas is likely to hold a press conference on Saturday amid speculation that he might contest the Assembly polls as an LDF independent from Ernakulam. The timing of Mr. Thomas’s “mutiny” could not be more bothersome for the Congress.

It comes shortly after the AICC tipped former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy to head the election campaign. The AICC had assembled a galaxy of leaders to steer electioneering to offset the party’s poor showing in the local body polls.

Speculations about an election-eve leadership change in the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) were also rife on Wednesday and has exposed the party to a fresh set of uncertainties.

KPCC president Mullappally Ramachandran has hinted that he might contest the Assembly polls. Such a move could open the door for either of the working presidents, K. Sudhakaran or Kodikunnil Suresh, to helm the party.

Two other senior leaders are also contesting the Assembly polls. They are former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala. A party insider said the AICC might also field P.J. Kurien, former Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, from a seat in Pathanamthitta district.

He said many party workers felt that the presence of an assemblage of top leaders in the electoral fray could individualise the campaign. Star campaigners were likely to focus more on their respective constituencies. The top-heavy candidate list could also lay the ground for future power struggles.

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