Weeks after suffering a drubbing in the crucial assembly polls, the Congress on Tuesday appointed senior leader and member of Parliament, K Sudhakaran as the new president of Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC).
The party high command picked the 73-year old leader for the top post replacing Mullappally Ramachandran after days-long discussions in the state and New Delhi.
Currently representing the Kannur constituency in the Lok Sabha for the second time, he was also a four-time MLA and served as a minister in the A K Antony cabinet during the 2001-2004 period.
A firebrand leader and an arch critic of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Sudhakaran has been known as the party's face in Kannur, a traditional Left fortress.
Known for his sharp speeches and daring personality, he has a strong follower base in north Kerala, especially in the politically volatile Kannur.
But sometimes his criticism of the CPM leaders have also hurt the party. During the assembly elections, a controversy erupted after Sudhakaran addressed Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan as a 'toddy tapper's son'. The misogynistic comments he made in the past too haunts the party still.
However, he is generally considered as one of the few Congress leaders who are strong enough to take on the ruling CPI(M) in their citadel.
Soon after the party-led UDF suffered a mauling in the Assembly polls from the ruling LDF and settled with just 41 seats, there had been a clamour for leadership change in the state unit of the Congress.
When vibrant leader V D Satheesan was appointed as the new legislative party leader last month, it was almost certain that there would also be a change in the KPCC chief post.
Since there were reports that Ramachandran had expressed his willingness to quit as KPCC chief, a section of leaders and activists had flooded the Congress high command with requests to give Sudhakaran a chance to revive the grand old party in the state.
No other major names had been cropped up for the post as the leaders of the factions including Oommen Chandy and Ramesh Chennithala reportedly did not make any suggestion.
After Satheesan, Sudhakaran's appointment was also generally viewed as a strong message from the party high command to the leaders and workers in the state to rise above group equations.
Meanwhile, Sudhakaran told reporters here that Rahul Gandhi informed him about the new responsibility over the phone.
Stating that he would try all possible ways to revive the party in the state and regain the confidence of cadres, the leader said he is entrusted with the big responsibility of bringing back the Congress to its erstwhile organisational setup.
"I will try to take everyone in the party together and seek their support and cooperation to revive the party. The Congress will surely regain its strength and will make a strong comeback in the state," he added.
Congress appoints 3 working presidents
The party also appointed three working presidents -- K Suresh, P T Thomas and T Siddique -- in the revamped Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC).
"The Congress president has also appointed Kodikkunnil Suresh, MP, P T Thomas, MLA, and T Siddique, MLA, as working presidents of the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee," a statement issued by the Congress said.
It said the party appreciates the contributions of outgoing PCC president Mullappally Ramachandran and outgoing working president K V Thomas.
Talks on UDF convener soon
Sources in Congress said the KPCC and District Congress Committees (DCC) will be revamped completely in the coming weeks.
New committees under K Sudharakaran will be formed at the State and district levels.
Talks on selecting a UDF convener will begin soon, the sources said.
(With inputs from PTI)