Sun. Jun 13th, 2021

The Congress national leadership has set in motion the process of reorganising the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) in the wake of the 2021 Assembly poll debacle. It entailed ushering in a generational change in the State unit of the party from the grassroots level and upwards.

In what was perceived as a precursor of impending leadership changes, a panel headed by former Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan interacted via video conference with the party’s top leadership in Kerala.

A party insider said former Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala had struck a reflective tone in his interaction with Mr. Chauvan. Mr. Chennithala reportedly said he had espoused a strong position against corruption, exposing lack of transparency in agreements the government had inked with foreign firms involved in crunching the personal health information of citizens and later deep sea fishing. He also highlighted various social and financial issues, including Sabarimala and high-interest borrowings via KIIFB.

However, the scams did not yield the desired political dividend. Voters seemed to have been taken in more by the welfare schemes such as free food kits and enhanced social pensions.

Corruption and scams took a back seat against the backdrop of the looming pandemic. The people seemed markedly reluctant to experiment with a new government amid the crippling epidemic. “Voters were unwilling to change horses midstream,” a Congress leader said.

Moreover, the Congress leadership also faced the accusation of failing to present a Chief Ministerial face. Instead, its messaging risked getting mixed by highlighting Mr. Chennithala and former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy as twin standard-bearers of the UDF.

The BJP had shifted votes to the LDF to pursue its “Congress-free India” agenda. The BDJS activists cross voted in strength to aid the CPI(M). The BDJS diverted at least 80% of its vote share to the LDF.

A party insider said the Congress was starved of funds. Booth level workers were at a premium. Candidates found it challenging to get workers to stick posters and distribute election slips. The Congress could not match or effectively counter the LDF’s social media outreach. Anti-CAA sentiment shifted Muslim votes to the LDF in Kerala. A section of Christian voters forsake the Congress, he said. The panel continued its hearings.

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