VM Sudheeran to head Congress in Kerala

VM Sudheeran was Monday named the new state unit president of the Congress in Kerala.

IANS| Updated: Feb 10, 2014, 14:37 PM IST

Thiruvananthapuram: VM Sudheeran was Monday named the new state unit president of the Congress in Kerala.

Sudheeran, 65, considered to be one of the cleanest politicians in the party here, had to fight a tough battle after his name was opposed by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and outgoing president Ramesh Chennithala.

The list was pruned and it finally came down to two names -- Sudheeran and present assembly speaker G Karthikeyan, who had the support of both Chandy and Chennithala.
"...My first task would be to speak to the chief minister and all former presidents of the party," Sudheeran said.

"My aim is to see that I take the entire party with me. The first litmus test for me is to lead the party into the upcoming Lok Sabha polls," he told reporters after being named the new president of the party in Kerala.

Sudheeran has represented the Congress four times each, as a legislator here and also as a Lok Sabha member. After his shock defeat in the 2004 Lok Sabha polls, he maintained a low profile. But, he has been much sought after by the national leadership.
"This is great news and probably this is the first time that the national leadership has thought above factional groups in the party...in the past, if the chief minister`s post went to one faction, the post of the party president was given to the other faction," said a senior party leader who is fed up with factionalism in the party in Kerala.

"This new appointment is going to provide a strong footing to the party here," he added.

The Congress party here has been divided between K Karunakaran and AK Antony and for the past one decade, the rival factions were headed by Chandy and Chennithala.

Sudheeran initially headed the students wing of the Congress party, and has been a major leader in the faction of Antony and Chandy.

However, after his defeat he has been maintaining a distance from all factions in the party.

His tenure as assembly speaker in the mid-eighties and a brief stint as the health minister in the cabinet of Antony in 1995 won him a lot of appreciation.

Political analyst S Jayashanker said: "Sudheeran has substance and image."

He said the Congress national leadership`s "several recent decisions defied logic, while this decision should be applauded".