Satheesan makes a whirlwind peacemaking tour

On Sunday, Leader of the Opposition V.D. Satheesan made a high profile attempt at peacemaking between the official Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) leadership and the traditional ‘A’ and ‘I’ groups in the Congress.

He called on Oommen Chandy, Ramesh Chennithala, and Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan at their homes to lay the ground for inner-party harmony. The disputes between the official group and the ‘A’ and ‘I’ factions had come to a head recently over the contentious appointment of District Congress Committee (DCC) presidents.

The factions presumed that Mr. Satheesan and KPCC president K. Sudhakaran had instituted a “rule of the two” in the party to sideline the “old guard”. The factions felt the incumbent “power pair” had All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary, Organisation, K.C. Venugopal’s tacit approval.

The perception had caused a realignment of forces in the Congress in Kerala, with Mr. Chennithala emerging as a powerful proponent of Mr. Chandy and vice versa. Both leaders shared the grievance that the official group had excluded them from DCC reorganisation to render their factions organisationally insignificant.

In Kottayam, Mr. Chandy strongly repudiated the KPCC’s current “no group, only party” mantra. “Congress first and group second,” he told journalists after meeting Mr. Satheesan.

Last week, Mr. Chandy hinted that Mr.Sudhakaran had acted in bad faith by revealing their private consultations on reorganisation. Secondly, Mr. Chandy reportedly felt strongly that the official leadership had attempted to create disarray among ‘A’ group loyalists by insinuating that he had endorsed the DCC presidents list.

In Haripad, Mr. Chennithala was circumspect in the public statement about his meeting with Mr. Satheesan. “I welcome the Opposition Leader’s initiative,” he said.

A party insider said Mr. Satheesan’s “peace tour” was a growing reflection of the thinking in the Congress that the current conflict would create no winners. Moreover, it would lend credence to the theory that the party was disintegrating and more leaders would defect to the Left Democratic Front.

Hence, the AICC has reportedly initiated below-the-radar attempts at peacemaking to ensure a rancour-free power-sharing agreement between senior leaders in reorganisation matters.

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