K Sudhakaran, the newly appointed president of the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC), has an uphill task of taking along a party forced to be on the opposition bench for a consecutive second term, besides keeping a miffed group of senior leaders in good humour.
The high command has intervened in appointing you as the KPCC president. Do you have any specific instruction from the national leadership?
Rahul Gandhi asked me to strengthen the party and take it back to power. The organizational strength now has weakened beyond comparison. My aim is to strengthen the organization as a semi-cadre party. The COVID-19 situation prevented the party from highlighting the Left’s five years of misrule, and it led to the backlash at the polls.
Don’t you need much flexibility to ensure the cooperation of the groups in the party?
I am sure of their cooperation. I will keep leaders in the mainstream, and heed to their advice and suggestions. Let bygones be bygones. The priority now is to strengthen the organization. But, there won’t be a single decision based on group considerations.
The party needs treatment at the grassroots level. Do you have a solution?
I will discuss conducting an organizational election with the AICC. I am a product of the organization polls held in 1992. If organizational election is not possible, I will reorganize committees at ward and constituency levels in a democratic way. A committee will be constituted to nominate KPCC and DCC office-bearers. I will respect the views of other leaders, but will not allow individual interference. There won’t be any more jumbo committees. The present committees will be completely revamped.
There is a criticism that the appointment is not generational change?
V D Satheesan’s appointment (as the Leader of the Opposition in the State Assembly) is generational change. My appointment is the result of the high command and workers’ efforts to find one to revitalize the party. It’s not generational change, but part of the high command’s experimentations.
The two appointments (Opposition Leader and KPCC chief) were made beyond group considerations. Does it mean that the groups have lost relevance?
The groups will become irrelevant. Until now, KPCC had been under the control of groups. It won’t happen henceforth. There won’t be a group in my name. Sycophants won’t be in leadership positions.
Your Kannur style so far has been to directly attack your political rivals. Will such a style of functioning be acceptable to regions south of Malabar?
I have built up Congress in Kannur by competing with the CPM. If I could hold myself against CPM in Kannur, it’s possible elsewhere in Kerala also. If BJP is the main rival at the national level, it’s the CPM in Kerala. Coming to style, it may change according to the place and circumstances.
Is leading a party, forced to sit in the opposition for 10 straight years, a challenge?
There are several ways to energize party workers. They will become active if they have a leader who they could trust. The Congress’s weakness is the weakness of the Front (United Democratic Front). I will try to bring back those parties that have left the Front. The Congress’s style of functioning will change in six months.