Congress likely to announce opposition leader today

VD Satheesan, Ramesh Chennithala
VD Satheesan, Ramesh Chennithala

New Delhi: The Congress high command is likely to announce the Leader of the Opposition (LoP) in the 15th Kerala Legislative Assembly on Friday.

Hectic canvassing has been on for the two leaders ahead in the race for the post, Ramesh Chennithala and V D Satheesan. The high command did not confirm rumours that a majority of the Congress MLA designates were supporting the latter.

AICC observers M Mallikarjun Kharge and V Vaithilingam, meanwhile, submitted their report to the high command after holding separate meetings with MLAs in Thiruvananthapuram. Both Chennithala and Satheesan were equally hopeful that the majority of MLAs had pledged their support to them in the meetings.

Meanwhile, there were indications that the high command might nominate K Sudhakaran as the KPCC president and P T Thomas as the UDF convener. A final decision on the two positions, however, might be delayed.

Chennithala has not yet received any hint of replacing him as the LoP. He also has the support of senior party leader and former chief minister, Oommen Chandy. The group equations in the party might be altered if the high command decides to override both Chennithala and Chandy.

Meanwhile, the ‘I’ group has been considering demanding the KPCC president’s post for K C Joseph in return for supporting Chennithala as the LoP.

Young MLA designates, desirous of a change in leadership, have been supporting Satheesan. A few MPs, including K Sudhakaran, too, have been seeking a leadership change.

Kharge and Vaithilingam had held talks with Congress MLA designates in Thiruvananthapuram. A consensus on the next opposition leader has been eluding the MLAs, it was learned.

Though Chennithala has the support of a few ‘A’ group MLAs, including Oommen Chandy, a section advocating a change in leadership has rallied behind Satheesan. Incidentally, Satheesan has the support of MLAs from both ‘I’ and ‘A’ groups.  

MLAs opposed to Chennithala argued that allowing the current leadership to continue, despite the Congress’s strength in the Assembly being reduced to 21, would lead to the destruction of the party.

The high command’s decision will be crucial since the MLAs had discarded group equations and taken a stand based on their conscience. The national leadership will also seek the views of senior leader A K Antony, and AICC general secretary (organization) K C Venugopal.

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