Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee is under pressure to convene a meeting of its Political Affairs Committee (PAC) after senior leader Oommen Chandy complained to interim national president Sonia Gandhi that the panel was being ignored.
A demand has been raised to convene the meeting of PAC during the camp executive meet, scheduled for November 24 and 25, at Neyyar in Thiruvananthapuram.
The PAC had met only once after K Sudhakaran was elected as the KPCC president. Citing the KPCC's reluctance in convening the PAC meet and other issues, former KPCC president K Sudhakaran had resigned from the panel.
Senior Congress leader K C Joseph has sent a letter to Sudhakaran, demanding the latter to convene a meeting of the PAC. The same demand was raised at the party working committee, and MPs, cutting across group affiliations, too, joined the chorus.
Despite demands from various quarters, the PAC meeting has not been convened. Chandy complained to Sonia after Opposition Leader V D Satheesan observed that the PAC's role was that of an advisory committee.
Formation of PAC
The PAC is an initiative by the All-India Congress Committee. The panel, comprising 21 senior leaders, was formed following the row within the party over the 2016 assembly poll debacle.
The PAC was set up also with the intention of addressing the complaint that the two groups, headed by Chandy and Ramesh Chennithala, were calling the shots within the party. AICC had then instructed the party to discuss all major political and organisational issues in the PAC.
Relevance of PAC questioned
The new KPCC leadership, however, has a different take. It felt that an effective, smaller forum was relevant when the KPCC had a jumbo executive committee of about 500 people. The executive committee now has only 56 members. Additionally, a meeting of 31-member KPCC functionaries, too, could be convened.
The PAC is not mandated by the party constitution, and hence its role would be that of an advisory body. A PAC meeting would be convened as and when required, and a suggestion to expand the committee by including a few more leaders is under consideration.
Groups join hands against KPCC leadership
The A and I groups, meanwhile, rejected the view that the PAC is an advisory body. They stressed that it is a decision-making panel, since it comprises leaders with the same, if not more, experience as that of the KPCC president.
Collective discussions on the Congress' future should be held in such a panel. The executive committee and KPCC functionaries are responsible for implementing the decision made by the PAC.
High Command's view
The party high command is not likely to ignore the PAC which has MPs and others who are in constant touch with it. The national leadership may not make a decision that could weaken the KPCC president either.
Advisory role, says Tariq Anwar
AICC general secretary in-charge of Kerala affairs Tariq Anwar, meanwhile, clarified that the KPCC's PAC will continue and its role is that of an advisory body. The KPCC executive committee should make final decision on party affairs, and according to the party constitution, the executive is supreme.
The PAC comprises prominent leaders from the State, and the party will consider revamping it if necessary. The AICC will approve a PAC rejig on KPCC's recommendation, and if it is convinced that such a revamp is necessary. Senior leader Oommen Chandy has voiced his concerns over the PAC to Sonia Gandhi.
Anwar holds talks with Chennithala
Tariq Anwar, who reached Kerala on Wednesday, held a telephonic discussion with Ramesh Chennithala. The leaders opted for the telephonic discussion due to their inconvenience in meeting in person.
Chennithala conveyed to Anwar his displeasure over the new KPCC leadership's functioning. The former opposition leader made it clear that he is opposed to nominating members and is not against a revamp.
Echoing Chandy's sentiments, Chennithala also questioned the propriety in nominating KPCC functionaries even as the AICC has announced the organisational election schedule.
Joseph Vazhackan, a Chennithala loyalist, met Anwar in person and explained his group's stand on the issue.