Infighting in the Congress is no news. In Kerala, leaders of the national party has perfected the art of factionalism through decades. It succeeded in institutionalizing factions and each group bargained and enjoyed privileges in the organisation and in the government whenever it came to power.

 

Now, ousted from power in the centre and the state and even under threat of an intrusion of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) into its traditional bastions, the Congress is obliviously engrossed in a suicidal war within in Kerala where it still holds sway in South India after Karnataka.
 

Even under threat of an intrusion of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) into its traditional bastions, the Congress is obliviously engrossed in a suicidal war within in Kerala

As the factions are busy gathering arms to train against each other, the happiest lot would be the Kerala BJP which has been desperately trying to erode the Congress base. It is not a secret that National President Amit Shah is not very happy with the performance of the party in Kerala. But the congress infighting has come as a blessing in disguise.A  weakening Congress means, the possibility of Khadi men shifting loyalties to the Saffron brigade.

 

Oommen Chandy

The group equations between the major groups in the party - A-faction led by Oommen Chandy and I-group led by leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala, underwent a drastic changes after VM Sudheeran, a loner in the Congress, was airdropped as the state president of the party with the blessings of the High Command with a mission to strengthen it. Obviously, the leaders of the factions were not bemused and whenever they were not fighting each other, they put their heads together to find ways to make things difficult for Sudheeran.

 

Whenever Sudheeran tried to assert his power in the party, the Chandy-Chennithala axis got alerted and came together to foil his plans and they succeeded to some extent. Besides the established groups, a few splinter groups also emerged in the party, making things very complex.

 

The recent reorganization of District Congress Committees (DCC) was a turning point. The High Command set aside group considerations in selecting DCC presidents, triggering a fresh round of firing all around. The discontent of A- faction in the DCC shake up was very apparent that Chandy made no secret of his dissent. He went sulking and stayed away from party programmes.

 

As the Congress factions are busy gathering arms to train against each other, the happiest lot would be the Kerala BJP. 

The interventions of the Congress working committee member AK Antony, who was the titular leader of the A-group, to appease Chandy apparently failed. In utter dejection, Antony desperately appealed to the party leaders and workers to shed differences and join hands to rejuvenate the party. He said the party was going through the worst crisis in history than it faced during 1967. “We have many generals and captains, but no soldiers,’ the former Defense Minister lamented.

 

Antony flanked by VM Sudheeran (left) and Oommen Chandy

His appeal went in vain. Within hours after Antony’s emotional appeal, K Muraleedharan, son of former Chief Minister K Karunakaran publicly denounced party leadership and stated that the party failed to lead from the front against the Left government. The barb was aimed at Sudheeran and Chennithala and it was widely read as the influential leader’s decision to join the Chandy camp. Though not very strong, Sudheeran also managed to build a group of his own with a few loyal leaders.

 

As the warring groups fight it out within Congress, the saffron brigade is busy doing its home work with an aim to win its first Lok Sabha seat/s in the 2019 general elections. Upbeat after its maiden win in Kerala Assembly polls this year, the BJP is meticulously planning to break the jinx in the LS polls. Amit Shah, with his much publicized dream of Congress-mukth Bharat, would be merrily watching the fight within the Congress in Kerala.