Chandy letter row exposes cracks in Cong

Chandy letter row exposes cracks in Cong

Factionalism in Kerala’s ruling Congress party was back in focus on Thursday, in the wake of a letter that Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala reportedly wrote to the party High Command pointing out leadership issues and Chief Minister Oommen Chandy’s waning public stature.

Chennithala, however, denied that he wrote the letter even as its copies and a newspaper report based on it continued to do the rounds in media.

The controversy could spell fresh trouble for the Congress; Chennithala leads the party’s ‘I’ faction in the state while Chandy helms the ‘A’ faction.

“Corruption is rampant, image of the chief minister has been totally spoiled” said the letter addressed to the party high command. The letter points out that the BJP has managed to make inroads in the state, as reflected in results of the recent local body election. It also criticised the party’s state leadership over shoddy preparations ahead of the poll. The Nair community, a traditional vote base for the Congress-led United Democratic Front, was shifting allegiance to the BJP and the opposition Left, the letter said.

The home minister told reporters here that he had not written the letter. Chandy and Chennithala have been acting as power centres in the party over the past few years and friction between the two groups peaked in 2013 after Chennithala, then president of the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC), was kept in waiting for a Cabinet entry. KPCC president V M Sudheeran said he would wait to ascertain the veracity of the letter before commenting on it.

Meanwhile, the party high command has called for a meeting on December 22 in Delhi, with Chandy, Chennithala and Sudheeran.

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