Intro: Political observers are inquisitive to see the stand of Congress high command in Kerala. But after the Lok Sabha elections, party men are worried about the Assembly elections. Losing the power in the last island of hope is a nightmare for them.
It is not at all a secret that Chief Minister of Kerala, Oommen Chandy and Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala did not leave any stone unturned to block VM Sudheeran’s appointment as Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) chief. This is in the light of ‘one man army character’ Sudheeran had been practising since 1991. As a senior leader sans holding any position he gave sleepless nights to United Democratic Front (UDF) ministers and senior Congress leaders like AK Antony and Oommen Chandy. Party men allege, his primary concern is always his personal image, come what may. Some observers believe that in this connection his role model is his mentor AK Antony.
But, when party’s heir apparent of the ‘first family’ appointed Sudheeran as KPCC chief, Congress leaders had no other alternative than lie down and enjoy it. And, Sudheeran continued his one man show in a more enthusiastic manner. His sadism in belittling others and ‘holier than you’ attitude ultimately led to the liquor policy and the resultant fiasco Oommen Chandy government now faces. And, this dilemma brought a by-product: The alliance between the warring ‘A’ and ‘I’ groups in Kerala Pradesh Congress; it was the natural strategy against their common opponent, Sudheeran.
The revised liquor policy of the UDF government is nothing but blatant U-turn. It vindicates the aforementioned lines. Kerala Cabinet’s decision to dilute the government’s much boasted liquor policy has been taken despite Sudheeran’s stiff opposition.
According to the new policy, ‘Sunday Dry Day’ has been revoked.
Working hours will be reduced from 15 hours to 12 ½ hours. 418 bars which were closed would now be given licences to run beer–wine parlours. The alibi for the changes is the reports of labour and tourism secretaries. There were complaints from labour and tourism ministers that their departments were adversely affected by the new liquor policy.
As soon as the U-turn report came in, an angry Sudheeran cancelled his programmes and returned to the capital city. He alleged that the government’s liquor policy has been sabotaged and government policies are formulated by outside forces. Sudheeran complained to the party high command about the reverse drive of the government.
CM’s trusted Lieutenant KC Joseph stated that government cannot ignore the setback suffered by the tourism sector and the burning problems of the employees who turned jobless, both due to the new liquor policy.
In the meantime Congress legislature party meeting witnessed angry outbursts against Sudheeran for his alleged anti-UDF government posture. CM Chandy has openly disputed Sudheeran’s allegations. MLAs opined, Sudheeran’s anti-government stand would jeopardise even the local bodies elections. They authorised CM and Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala to take further actions. TN Pratapan, MLA, the only supporter of Sudheeran, did not attend the meeting.
It is reported that AK Antony, who is not so happy with the CM, is the ray of hope for Sudheeran. Obviously central leadership will not take any decision without consulting Antony. It is alleged that the changes in the liquor policy was brought due to the pressure of the liquor lobby; they claim, they have bribed revenue minister KM Mani for the same. The bar bribery case has been rocking Kerala politics since the last more than a month.
Now, political observers watch the development; they are inquisitive to see the stand Congress high command may take in Kerala matter. But, it looks like high command is now a low command, especially after the elections to the Parliament, State Assemblies of Maharashtra, Haryana and the latest elections to the Assemblies of Jharkhand and J & K.
Congress men are worried about next year’s local body elections and the assembly elections of May, 2016. Losing the power in Kerala, the last island of hope in the country, is a staring nightmare for them. It is reported that lot of desperate Congress workers are all set to join BJP.
—T Satisan from Kochi