By P. Sreekumaran
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Former chief minister Oommen Chandy is back on the cente-stage of Kerala politics. Not for the reasons to his liking, though.
Chandy, who is locked in a grim struggle to regain the pre-eminent position he enjoyed prior to the assembly election debacle, is feeling the political heat following submission of the report by Justice Sivarajan Commission, which probed the solar scam. The little information that has trickled has blamed the ‘vulnerability’ of his office for the scam.
The Sivarajan Commission was appointed on October 23, 2013 in the wake of allegations that Biju Radhakrishnan and Saritha Nair posing as solar entrepreneurs, used some staff members of the then chief minister Oomen Chandy and his office to lure many persons into the scam. Chandy himself had deposed before the Commission for over 14 hours.
While a detailed analysis of the Commission’s report must await the release of the details, there is definitely cause for concern for Oommen Chandy if whatever little information that has come out is any indicator.
While Chandy himself has expressed confidence over the content of the report, his staunch loyalists are a worried lot. In their initial reaction, they have sought to play down its likely impact on Congress politics and Chandy’s own political future.
Significantly, none of the top Congress leaders have come out in support of Chandy in the wake of the submission of the Commission report. The silence is being interpreted as ‘jubilation’ in the camp of Chandy’s detractors within the party over his discomfiture. The silence is also being attributed to the internecine group politics plaguing the Congress in Kerala.
It is an open secret that the dominant A and I groups led respectively by Chandy and Ramnesh Chennithala are engaged in a not-so-secret fight to take control of the party organization which is set to face elections soon. True, Chandy has ruled out accepting any position in the party, his group is hell bent on securing the key post of Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee(KPCC) president so that they can call the shots in future.
And, already the names of his close confidants are in circulation for the post. Among the front-runners are Benny Behennan and KC Joseph. Chandy knows jolly well that the capture of the KPCC chief’s post is an essential pre-requisite for his return to the centre-stage of Congress politics. That explains why his group has pulled out all the stops to achieve this goal.
Conversely, there is no escaping the sense of jubilation in the CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front(LDF) camp. After all, the Government has managed to access a powerful weapon with which to harass the Congress-led UDF. Although the partners of the Congress in the UDF are putting up a brave front, they are fully aware of the damage potential an adverse report could cause to the front’s political future and longevity.
No wonder, the shoulders of many a Congress leader have slumped. The spring in their walk is no more there. The sparkle in their eyes has vanished into thin air, too. The Congress leaders know that there are troubled days ahead for the party and the UDF thanks to Oommen Chandy’s failure to nip the solar scam mischief in the bud. (IPA Service)