Thiruvananthapuram, May 8 : With an all round overhaul on the cards in the now grieving Congress party in Kerala following the electoral drubbing it received in the April 6 assembly polls, all eyes are on the arrival of the two member AICC delegation which will have a one-on-one meeting with the 21 Congress legislators to elect the parliamentary party leader. It will also be decided as to who will take up the post of Leader of Opposition and the word is if such a thing happens, then two time former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy will get the nod.
The Congress has formed a team led by senior leader Malikarjuna Kharge and it is expected to arrive in the state on May 20 and will speak to all concerned and it's that which could turn out to be a clincher for Chandy.
At the polls, when the Congress led UDF was all set to take over power, as is the practice in Kerala where the Opposition goes on to form the new government, after the assembly polls, this time it failed to happen, leaving the entire Congress and UDF devastated.
In the 140-member Kerala assembly, while the Pinarayi Vijayan led Left secured 99 seats, the UDF won just 41 seats, down six seats from 2016.
The 77-year-old Chandy after being booted out by Vijayan in 2016, in the five years, did not aim for any post and remained just an ordinary legislator, but utilised his time to be with the people of the state and travelled widely, as he is the last of the vanishing tribe of a Congress leader who has a pan-Kerala acceptance.
In the 2020 local body polls, when despite Vijayan's government coming under a maze of grave allegations, managed to win the polls, it was on the cards that for invigorating the Congress party, something needs to be done.
And, Chandy just before the assembly polls was announced the chairman of the election committee and was in charge of selection of candidates and devising the campaign strategy.
Why Chandy, despite not able to take the UDF to regain power, has a chance to become the new Leader of Opposition is because when results came and Congress was badly mauled, a huge cry broke out demanding the replacement of State Congress president Mullapally Ramachandran and Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala, there was none who bayed for the blood of Chandy.
However on Friday, at its first review meeting of the political affairs committee of the party, Ramachandran who spoke first lamented that he is being singled out for the beating and it was unfair.
Chandy stepped in and said that if there is one single person who is responsible for the debacle, it's him, as he was the chairman of the election committee and he will take the full responsibility.
Soon came similar statements from the other members and decided not to blame any single person and that turned out to be very decisive to diffuse what was an emotionally charged meeting when it began, with many upset at the way how Ramachandran and Chennithala failed to get the UDF into power, but none ever spoke a word naming Chandy, even though he was the chairman of the election committee.
A Congress legislator on condition of anonymity said even though in the 21 member Congress legislator party, there are more legislators who are in the faction led by Chennithala, if there is going to be a decision which would be made after a one-on-one interaction with the legislators, a few from the camp of Chennithala is certain to say they would prefer Chandy.
"We have told Chandy that at no cost should he voluntarily opt out of the race. He just smiled. He is still recovering after he turned Covid negative, last month. It's just a matter of few weeks of rest and none has any doubt, he will have all the energy to take up any responsibility, what the party asks him to take," said the legislator and added that the final call will be taken by the party high command based on the report of the Kharge committee.
So all eyes are on the arrival of Kharge, as Chandy's close aides are also anxiously waiting.
-- The story has been published from a wire feed without any modifications to the text