With Kerala PCC chief V M Sudheeran timing his exit to perfection, the Congress is back to looking for a new redeemer in the State. Though there are multiple views on the reasons for Sudheeran’s decision to quit, it is a fair assumption that he realised he had not met the high command’s objectives. Sudheeran was handpicked by the national leadership in 2014 overlooking the unanimous choice of both the strong factions in the party’s Kerala unit. The ‘A’ group led by then CM Oommen Chandy and the ‘I’ group led by Ramesh Chennithala had both proposed the name of G Karthikeyan, the then Assembly speaker. But the Congress high command felt Sudheeran was the man who could loosen the grip of factionalism plaguing the party in Kerala with his clean image and penchant for plain speak.
Truth be told, the local chieftains and cadres never accepted Sudheeran. The disconnect worsened as he started picking on the policies and decisions of the Chandy government, forcing it to retract a few, and in the process, providing ammunition to the Left. The open war between Chandy and Sudheeran over the liquor policy did not go down well with the high command. The spat culminated in the closure of bars and the bar bribery scandal. Things did not improve even in the run-up to the 2016 Assembly polls as Sudheeran opposed the candidature of a few Chandy loyalists.
Many leaders felt Sudheeran’s adamant stand led to the UDF’s electoral debacle.The scene deteriorated after polls as DCC presidents were Sudheeran’s picks. A peeved Chandy stayed away from crucial meetings and was reportedly given an assurance by Rahul Gandhi that organisational elections would soon be held. Sudheeran saw what was coming and tactfully put in his papers, citing medical reasons. Now that a new nominee is required, the national leadership is unlikely to take any more chances. It will have to pick the right man to resurrect the party’s fortunes in time for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.