Thiruvananthapuram, April 23 : With May 2 fast approaching, when votes will be counted in Kerala, it's all happening as the rival factions have in all earnestness started to do what they know best to rally behind two times former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and present Leader of Opposition and former Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala.
"Without doubt, 77 year old Chandy, the last of the pan Kerala popular political personality, on account of the way he carries himself and his vast experience, none can just discount Chennithala, who for the past five years has been doing yeoman service taking on Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan with ease," opined a media critic.
Moreover, if one looks into the legislative history of the Congress party in the past several decades, it's good news for Chennithala, as all the party's opposition leaders in the assembly went on to become the next Chief Minister, which include, K. Karunakaran, A.K. Antony and Oommen Chandy.
Looking back in 2011, when Chandy led the Congress-led UDF in the assembly polls to victory, minutes before the Congress parliamentary party meeting was going to be held to elect the new leader, the call came from AICC headquarters asking Chennithala to inform the media that he is not going to contest for the post and as a result, Chandy without any effort got the post of the chief minister.
Chandy's close aides, however is leaving nothing to chance and has persuaded him at no cost should he willingly move out for Chennithala.
"In the Congress party, the general norm is those who go on to become the parliamentary party leader, when the party's legislators elect, normally gets the green signal from the party high command. In the 92 seats that the Congress party contested in the 140 member assembly, Chandy's well wishers and aides outnumber Chennithala.
Should Chandy's faction get the maximum number of seats, Chandy will definitely go on to become the next chief minister, leaving Chennithala to get the post of deputy CM wielding the Home Portfolio," said a top Congress leader.
Meanwhile Chennithala's camp is burning the midnight oil and is leaving nothing to chance as they know in the scheme of things of the AICC, so far there has been no precedent of sharing the CM's post between two leaders.
Similarly, the AICC has a practise of sending observers to gauge the mood of the winning legislators and also the allies of the Congress-led UDF.
And if there is going to be such an assessment, where the opinion of legislators and allies are taken individually behind closed doors, Chandy is definitely going to be a clear winner and hence, Chennithala and his aides are hoping against hope that the only way is to get maximum winning legislators to raise hands for him.
Meanwhile, Chandy who turned Covid negative last week is presently completing his mandatory quarantine at his residence and his close aides are after him to ensure that he regains his fitness at the earliest, as he was the Opposition's star campaigner, with every candidate requesting his presence, which had drained his energy and with Covid striking, his health was a concern for all.
And with May 2 not that far away, the million dollar question that's going to be there, should the UDF regain power, who would it be, Chandy or Chennithala?
-- The story has been published from a wire feed without any modifications to the text