The Congress led United Democratic Front government which rules Kerala has been entwined in a rather amusing political drama in the past few days. The party that openly criticized the infighting within the Left Democratic Front when they were in power is going through a similar conflict this time. The Kerala Pradesh Congress Party, which is split into two predominant factions, is having a power struggle. UDF is still ruling the state in a slender majority that they got in the 2011 elections. Amidst the various tussles they had to face for forming a government Ramesh Chennithala, the present Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee, lost out his ministerial ticket.
A very meek Chennithala retired to being the KPCC President, hopeful of pouncing on to an opportunity as soon as it comes by. The Nair Service Society, a caste based group, which endorses Chennithala continuously brought up the issue of his ministerial chances during the UDF’s two-year rule. The party somehow did manage to go unharmed through the Left’s allegation that the state is falling into the hands of caste groups. The issue did not come up for a while.
However, Ramesh Chennithala’s magic ticket was on its way. On the eve of UDF’s, second anniversary in power the Chief Minister announced the news of a cabinet reshuffle. And yes, all hell broke loose! The clamor for making Chennithala a minister with a “strong” portfolio emerged. What has been happening ever since for the past few days have been a series of contradicting statements by the Congress leaders that reflected the confusion within the party. Now you should get the context right, the Congress in Kerala is mostly divided into two factions, Congress (A) and (I). While the strongmen of Congress (A) include Oommen Chandy and Home Minister Thriuvanchoor Radhakrishnan, the (I) group is prominently the legion of Ramesh Chennitha, VS Sivakumar and G Sudhakaran etc.
The Congress (A) is reluctant to dilute the powers of the Chief Minister and hand over powerful ministries like Home to Chenniathala. The (I) faction is on the other hand more than keen to bag a relevant portfolio and is reported to have been unhappy with the existing offers of revenue and forest so far. Things are worsening further as Chennithala made it clear on Wednesday that the party and the government will not function together from now on following which the demand for making him the Chief Minister has cropped up today.
The split is now open and out in the public. They even proposed the creation of a new post in the cabinet, that of a Deputy Chief Minister. Quite ironically, the power struggle reminds people of the crisis the state saw when the Left Democratic Front was in power. It is worth observing the play out of this crisis, the government has been continuously ignoring the issue of infant deaths in Attapadi and the power crisis the state has been facing. These issues are yet to be tackled, but the when some leaders of the state are busy holding on to their seats, others are grappling to get hold of one.
With matters getting worse, Kerala is now staring at its two major political parties looking inwards into their own issues leaving in the lurch the people staring at them caught in the midst of a transitioning economy and the severe droughts that has been plaguing the state for some time now.