Letter seeking Congress overhaul in Kerala stirs a row

Thiruvananthapuram, Dec 17 (IANS) A letter purportedly written by Kerala Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala to the Congress high command seeking an “urgent overhaul” in the party after the rout in the civic polls has led to a row in the state.

The letter – signed in Chennithala’s name – was accessed by the media on Thursday. Chennithala’s office, however, denied the minister wrote it.

Chennithala himself told reporters here on Thursday: “I have not written any such letter.”

The letter says there has to be an urgent overhaul in the Congress in the wake of the unexpected setback in the November civic polls in the state.

If that does not happen, then the party will come a cropper in the upcoming assembly polls, it says.

It says members of the Oommen Chandy government were allegedly involved in several cases of corruption. This has dented the party’s image, and something urgent needs to be done.

State Congress president V.M. Sudheeran also expressed surprise on hearing about such a letter to the party high command.

“Soon after the civic polls results came out, we underwent a stock-taking and no such thing that the so-called letter contains was ever discussed. I feel the authenticity of the letter has to be verified,” Sudheeran said.

Chandy, however, did not say anything about it to the media.

Sources later said all three leaders — Chandy, Chennithala and Sudheeran –have been summoned to Delhi.

“Summoning us to Delhi is not based on the so-called letter. In fact, I had booked (a ticket) to travel on December 14 but it was later cancelled, and now all of us are going to meet our leadership on December 22,” Sudheeran told reporters at the state Congress headquarters.

“I repeat, this upcoming meeting has got nothing to do with the so-called letter,” he added.

Meanwhile, Left opposition leader and Communist Party of India-Marxist state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said the letter clearly shows that all is not well within the Congress.

“There seems to be a disconnect between the home minister and the chief minister, and it clearly shows the divide in the Congress party,” Balakrishnan said at a function organised by his party here on Thursday.

Chandy’s aides are said to be upset over the controversy triggered by the letter.

“Chennithala sent this letter and we are aware of it. This is not the first such letter. He has written in the past too,” said an aide who did not wish to be identified.

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