In a fresh episode reflecting the ongoing crisis in the Kerala unit of the Congress, former KPCC president V M Sudheeran has stepped down from the party's Political Affairs Committee (PAC).
Sudheeran quit the PAC, the highest decision-making body of the party's state unit, apparently due to differences of opinion with the new leadership headed by PCC chief K Sudhakaran and Leader of the Opposition V D Satheesan.
Sudhakaran on Saturday confirmed receiving Sudheeran's resignation letter. He, however, said he was yet to read it. Speaking to media in Kannur, Sudhakaran said he talked to Sudheeran over phone but the latter did not give a reason for his resignation. “I have told him we are ready to discuss with him matters, including party restructuring,” Sudhakaran said. He said he had respects for all senior leaders, including Sudheeran and Mullappally Ramachandran. The PCC president said Ramachandran, his immediate predecessor, has not been attending his calls of late.
Sudheeran has not made any statement regarding his resignation. He said he would respond if needed. The former PCC chief was unhappy with the restructuring process in the party. He had made it clear in a Facebook post before the announcement of the new District Congress Committee (DCC) presidents. According to reports he was unhappy as he felt the new leadership was not taking him into confidence despite Sudheeran being a former state party president, legislator, Lok Sabha member, minister and a former speaker.
Sudheeran had been maintaining a silence for the past several weeks amid a series of verbal duels between the new leadership and the old power centres led by senior leaders Oommen Chandy and Ramesh Chennithala.
Sudheeran's resignation comes close on the heels of two former KPCC general secretaries KP Anilkumar and G Rethikumar joining the CPM.
Sudheeran's move has come at a time when the AICC general secretary in-charge of Kerala, Tariq Anwar, is reaching the state capital to finalise the 51-member organisational structure of the party.
The new leadership has shown complete disregard to the old power centres while selecting 14 new district president's of the party in August.
Ready for talks: Tariq Anwar
AICC general secretary in charge of Kerala, Tariq Anwar, said the party cannot compel senior leaders to cooperate with them.
"We want to involve every senior leaders. but we cannot compel them. how can we compel them. they can discuss with general secretary in charge. I'm open to everyone,"Anwar told media when asked about Sudheeran's decision.
Terming Sudheeran's decision to quit disappointing, Satheesan said the leadership would talk to the senior leader address his concerns. He said Sudheeran has informed the party that he was quitting because of ill health.
"Sudhakaran had called on Sudheeran and had a discussion with him. We are sure that the leadership of the party will resolve issues and will move forward smoothly," PCC Working president P T Thomas said according to an IANS report.
Former chief minister Oommen Chandy said Sudheeran's decision to step down from PAC was not proper. “Sudheeran should be there in the committee,” he said.
Sudheeran had to step down as PCC president following the party's rout in the 2016 assembly polls in which Chandy was unseated from power. Sudheeran was picked as PCC president by the AICC as he did not belong to either of the A or I factions headed by Chandy and Ramesh Chennithala respectively. As PCC president he had a tough going as factional managers had a strong grip over the organisation. The latest reforms within the party, including the appointment of Sudhakaran and Satheesan, threatened the existing power structures within the party and it led to the coming together of Chandy and Chennithala who used to head the rival factions. Sudhakaran and Satheesan have met the two senior leaders and have been trying to take them along even as they kept sulking over the appointment of the new DCC presidents. Sudheeran's resignation has turned out to be a fresh headache for the new leadership which is firm to bring in a new style of functioning and discipline within the organisation.