Demand for total revamp in Congress after poll drubbing

Thiruvananthapuram: The political affairs committee (PAC) of the Congress party will meet on Friday, even as the clamour for a total revamp of the organization became louder.

The grand old party is in introspective mode after the drubbing it received at the recently concluded Assembly polls. Several quarters within the party are demanding further action to regain the outfit’s self-confidence and the trust of the people.

Call for change

The popular sentiment in the Congress now is against the usual cosmetic changes, but for a total revamp from the booth level to the top leadership.

Kerala is having an opposition having a second consecutive term for the first time even since UDF and LDF started battling each other for power. Till now, the power has been alternating between the two Fronts.

UDF never had a drubbing like the one it has now received. Its defeat this time was worse than the one in 2016, when Kerala had witnessed an anti-Oommen Chandy wave.  

Though Ramesh Chennithala had led the Congress effectively in the House and outside, the party failed in converting his efforts into votes. Hence, the demand, irrespective of group affiliations, for a change in leadership is getting louder. Those advocating a total revamp also felt that it should be acceptable to the people also.

Failed experiment

Out of the 50 fresh faces the Congress had experimented in the election, only two won. Of the 20 sitting MLAs in fray, only three lost, reflecting the fact that new faces alone could not win elections.

Sitting MLAs have their own organizational structure and influence in their respective constituencies, which the new faces lacked. The decision to experiment with fresh faces backfired, exposing the party’s weak organizational structure.

Too many leaders

The party has committees at the booth level only in 50 places. Even constituencies where prominent leaders contested lacked booth committees. Additionally, the leadership constituted jumbo committees by accommodating almost all district committee leaders, which led to confusion, and no one to shoulder responsibilities.

Cyber war rooms presented another problem as those manning them fought with each other. The party also expected to win by riding the wave created by Priyanka and Rahul Gandhi, and the excitement that was visible on the surface. The expectation was shattered when the results were announced.

A feeling that the top leadership had failed in planning and coordinating the campaign is also gaining strength. Though a demand for better interaction between Mullappally Ramachandran, Oommen Chandy and Ramesh Chennithala was raised in a previous PAC meet, it did not materialize.

The suggestion for a coordinated offensive against the government in consultation with all UDF constituent parties, too, was ignored. Measures initiated after the local body poll defeat proved to be ineffective.

The AICC had earlier suggested to form new committees in all the 14 DCCs and assign them the task of winning the polls. Both the groups rejected the suggestion. Instead, MPs were given the responsibility of Assembly segments in their respective Parliament constituencies. The move also failed.

The demand now is for introducing able leaders in top positions. The Congress, so far, had considered group and religious-caste equations while selecting leaders. Since the electorate had rejected such considerations. Several leaders felt the party should do away with such equations. A collective of young leaders, who has been functioning beyond group considerations, too, has demanded a revamp.

Most leaders suggested the revamp should not hurt those who would be dropped. They demanded the formation of energetic committees at all levels.

The popular demand is against jumbo committees that have proved to be ineffective. Instead, a new structure by forming committees of those willing to work tirelessly has been mooted.

Meanwhile, the UDF constituent parties are keenly watching the Congress. They, too, are not familiar with sitting in the opposition for 10 straight years. The Congress now has the responsibility to have a fresh leadership who could lead the Front by example. 

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