Knives out against Chandy after A K Antony’s comment on rising graft
Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy
Senior Congress leader A K Antony’s observation on corruption in government machinery has snowballed into a war cry against the leadership of Chief Minister Oommen Chandy whose government is entering its final year on Sunday.
While addressing a meeting of secretariat employees two days back, Antony had stated that corruption has increased in all areas of government and bribe has become mandatory to get things done for the people. He urged government employees to take the initiative to end corruption.
Congress state vice-president V D Satheeshan joined the issue, saying the government is under the shadow of corruption. In an interview to a TV channel, Satheeshan, a prominent leader of the group led by Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala, said the issue of leadership change was put on the backburner because of the impending elections to the local bodies. He said Chennithala, the most presentable face in the Congress in Kerala, was eligible for the post of chief minister.
Satheeshan said Chandy would be responsible if the party fails to retain power in the next assembly elections.
Sensing the rival group’s agenda of change of guard in the government, loyalists of Chandy hit back saying Satheeshan need not don the role of high command. Former Union minister Kodikunnil Suresh said Satheeshan has been working against the government ever since he was denied a cabinet berth. By raising the issue of a change of guard at the government, Satheeshan wants to become a minister.
Another Chandy loyalist and minister K C Joseph also hit back at Satheeshan, who has recently shot into prominence in Congress politics with the support of Rahul Gandhi.
Joseph said Satheeshan should not have joined the Opposition to show the government in poor light. Satheeshan should not forget that he is only one of the five vice-presidents of the Congress state unit. Chandy has become the chief minister not as the leader of any group. The move of a section of leaders to unseat Chandy would not succeed. His government would complete the term. The leadership change would remain only as a dream, Joseph said.
Although party state chief V M Sudheeran asked the leaders to maintain restraint, group leaders continued to exchange fire. Satheeshan said he would be forced to say that the government is submerged in corruption. Those who could not react to Antony’s criticism were turning the ire on me, said Satheeshan.
Sudheeran said leadership change was not in the agenda of party. There is no relevance for such discussions at this stage. Problems in the party would be solved through discussions, said Sudheeran.
Chandy said the corruption charges have not affected the performance of the government. Impartial probe would be held into all allegations. The government could not be held to ransom by raising corruption charges, he said.
Congress sources said the debate over change of leadership was triggered mainly aimed at next assembly election, a year away. Chandy has been leading the party in the last two assembly elections. In 2011, Chennithala had been a front-runner for the post of the CM, but kept away at the intervention of the party high command and Antony.
Source:: Indian Express