Top Congress leaders moved just in time to quell what many Congress insiders felt would have led to a Pala-like mess in Konni.
A compromise formula was quickly worked out and a not-too-pleased Adoor Prakash was escorted and carried with great fanfare to the election convention of the Congress candidate P Mohanraj in Konni on Monday as though he was a groom determined not to take the hand of the bride.
Adoor Prakash refused to accept the tri-colour cloth garland that the District Congress president Babu George tried to put around him and was largely cold to the embrace of Mohanraj.
On the face of it, it might seem that making Robin Peter, Adoor Prakash choice as his replacement in Konni, the Pathanamthitta District Congress Committee vice president was the compromise deal. “Prakash is too shrewd a politician to be satisfied with crumbs,” a top Congress leader told Onmanorama.
It is said that there were two other major deals that Adoor Prakash, one of the leading lights of the 'I' group in the party, had struck with the Congress top brass. One, he wanted his man Robin Peter to replace the present DCC president Babu George. The VP post for Robin Peter was just for starters. Adoor Prakash has been assured that it would be done in “reasonable time”.
The Attingal MP believes that Babu George, who is an 'A' group member, is out to systematically snuff out his influence in Konni. The candidate the party has found as his replacement, P Mohanraj, too is an 'A' group leader.
He has therefore argued that Babu George's removal and the appointment of an 'I' group leader alone was the only way to regain the group balance in Pathanamthitta. The Congress source said that Adoor Prakash had felt so slighted by the DCC that he was not amenable to reason. “He was told that Mohanraj was picked for Konni because the 'A' group had conceded the Aroor seat for Shanimol Usman, an 'I' group member. He did not budge,” the source said. It is also widely accepted that it was high time that Mohanraj, a former municipality chairman and former DCC president, was given his due. Robin Peter, though he is a panchayat president, does not hold top positions in the DCC.
The KPCC president Mullappally Ramachandran, after consulting with senior 'A' group leaders, is said to have agreed to the proposal. The 'A' group is also well aware that Adoor Prakash, who had been Konni MLA for 23 years, had enough political clout to upset the UDF apple cart.
The 'A' group also realises that the Pathanamthitta DCC is no match for him when it comes to popularity; the man who wrested the seat from the CPM with a slender margin of 784 votes in 1996 had over the years consistently widened both his influence and victory margin and in 2016, when the UDF in general looked lost in a swirl of corruption charges, had won the seat with a majestic margin of 20,784 votes.
Adoor Prakash went for the kill with his second demand. He wanted opposition leader Ramesh Cennithala, the 'I' group leader, to consider him as the group's candidate for KPCC presidentship when the time comes for Mullappally to bow out.
Chennithala is said to have no choice but to agree. Chennithala also knows that the 'I' group cannot afford to lose a hugely popular leader like Adoor Prakash. Earlier, when Adoor Prakash was accused in the solar scam, there were rumours that he had switched over to the 'A' group.
Adoor Prakash, it is said, was not content with just an assurance. He wanted the process to start moving and demanded that he be made the KPCC working president. With the death of M I Shanawas, the slot of one of the three KPCC working president lies vacant; K Sudhakaran and Kodikkunnil Suresh are the other two. Mullappally said he needed to consult with the KPCC. When Adoor Prakash showed no sighs of backing down, the KPCC president said he would give it serious thought.
It was after pocketing these promises that Adoor Prakash came to the election convention and declared that he had inadvertently given the name of Robin Peter when the party asked his opinion. “Now I think it was a mistake,” he said. Congress leaders are still not sure whether he was serious or just being ironical.