Millennium Post

Chandy government versus Congress

The growing disconnect between the Congress and the United Democratic Front (UDF) government led by the party came to the fore with senior party leaders strongly criticising the Oommen Chandy government’s style of functioning.

What is significant is the open criticism voiced by the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president Ramesh Chennithala, for the first time, against the UDF government’s performance or lack of it at the Congress coordination committee meeting held recently.

An angry Chennithala made no secret of his displeasure at the manner in which the government has been trying to implement policy decisions without taking the Congress into confidence and without discussing the issues, first, within the UDF.

The immediate provocation for the KPCC chief’s outburst has been the government’s move to bring in an amendment to the Conservation of Wetland and Paddy Land Act, bypassing both the Congress and the UDF.

The KPCC chief lashed out at the government’s attempts to amend the act which was unanimously passed by the state assembly. Chennithala said the government’s decision had caused concern to all the concerned parties, and the government should have been more careful while dealing with such sensitive issues.

The government’s tendency to take ‘unilateral’ decisions without consulting the ruling front came in for stringent criticism at the UDF meeting later as well.

In view of the intensity of the criticism against the government’s decisions, the chief minister was constrained to announce that the decision to amend the act has been put on hold.

Also deferred was a decision on the move of the education minister, who belongs to the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) to start more unaided schools in the Malabar region, especially in the Muslim-dominated Malappuram district.

Senior party leader V M Sudheeran was also strongly critical of the government’s efforts to impose its decision on both the party and the UDF. An exasperated Sudheeran asked the chief minister to immediately withdraw the proposed amendment to the act.

An isolated chief minister Chandy’s attempts to justify the government’s decision were strongly denounced by the Congress coordination committee members.

This is the second time the government’s proclivity to take unilateral decisions has been lambasted by the ruling coalition partners as well as the Congress.

The government’s decision to grant a fifth ministerial berth to the IUML had also attracted widespread criticism earlier. A large number of Congress leaders had come down heavily on the chief minister for the ‘total surrender’ to the IUML on the issue of the grant of a fifth ministerial berth to the IUML.

The only difference this time is that Chandy found himself totally isolated both at the Congress coordination committee meeting and at the UDF meets. On earlier occasions, Chandy used to get the support of the KPCC chief. This time the latter sided with the CM’s critics openly and more vehemently.

Unless the party high command intervenes and sorts out the differences, the tension between the party and the government headed by it could escalate sooner than later with unpredictable consequences for the government.
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