Does Kerala unit of Congress have different yardsticks for different leaders

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Thiruvananthapuram, April 21

The Kerala unit of Congress is known for its factionalism and when it comes to discipline within the party, it appears there are different yardsticks for different people as is evident in the case of two veteran leaders.

Recently, senior party leader K.V. Thomas made headlines after he attended the 23rd CPI-M party Congress at Kannur on April 9 defying party President Sonia Gandhi's order. The All India Congress Committee's disciplinary committee is now looking into the explanation given by the him regarding the matter.

Similarly, questions are being raised on party's silence over former Deputy Rajya Sabha Chairman and Congress leader P.J. Kurien's slamming of Rahul Gandhi in an interview with a vernacular magazine in state capital Thiruvananthapuram on Sunday.

Thomas is 75 years old and has had a very long innings in electoral politics both at the state and Centre, while 81-year-old Kurien has had an even longer political innings, but it was in Delhi only where he had served six terms in the Lok Sabha from 1980-99 and in the Upper House from 2005 till 2018, when in his last term he was the Deputy Chairman.

Incidentally, both the top Congress leaders have some similarities: former college professors, belong to Christian community and are unhappy especially with the party high command.

While Thomas was not allowed to contest his sitting Lok Sabha constituency in 2019, Kurien wanted another term in the Upper House which was turned down by the Congress, and has led to both of them turning jittery.

Another similarity between the two Congressmen is due to their long innings in Delhi, both of them have very little grassroots support in Kerala and not much tears are being shed on account of their present grouse.

But what has come as a shocker is that at the Congress's top committee meeting in Thiruvananthapuram held this week where both Thomas and Kurien need to be present but neither took part.

While Thomas was not invited to the party meet, Kurien expressed his inability to attend the meeting citing personal reasons.

According to a party source requesting anonymity, as soon as the party meeting began, Congress Lok Sabha member T.N. Prathapan demanded that Kurien be punished for his interview given to a vernacular magazine.

However, senior Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala intervened and said there is nothing new in what Kurien said and is similar to the statements that the G23 (group of top Congress leaders in Delhi who first expressed their displeasure against the way Rahul Gandhi is conducting himself) and can be ignored.

Soon, the Kerala Opposition leader V.D. Satheesan also intervened and voiced the same opinion as Chennithala and said the party committee need not waste its time on the same issue.

A media critic on condition of anonymity said it's strange how the Congress leaders in Kerala behave as the two of the biggest enemies of Kurien — senior Congress leader Oommen Chandy and Chennithala took a soft political stand.

Kurien has been angry with Chandy and Chennithala as in 2018 when he was expecting a fresh Rajya Sabha term, the latter decided to placate the estranged Kerala Congress (M) leader K.M. Mani, who had temporarily quit the Congress-UDF alliance, offered the constituency to his son Jose K. Mani, who had a year left to complete his Lok Sabha term.

"It's through such attitude of the Congress leaders here the party is now struggling and not to mention the rod of discipline is wielded looking at who the violator is. The average common man appears to have lost faith in the dubious ways the Congress party is run. Don't be surprised, one never knows, even Thomas might be let off with a stern warning," said the media critic.

Thomas feels he is targeted because he comes from a fisherman family, while Kurien belongs to the Mar Thoma Church.
 

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