Cherian Philip said that during his time in the CPI(M), he was never given a 'safe' seat while contesting Assembly elections.

Kerala politician Cherian Philip who joined back Congress.
news Politics Friday, October 29, 2021 - 18:32
Written by  IANS

Kerala's former Congress leader Cherian Philip, who has been associated with the CPI(M) for the past two decades, announced that he is returning “home” to the Congress party on Friday, October 29. "My roots are in the Congress and I have now realised that I can grow only in the Congress. While being in the  CPI(M) I was never given a chance to join mainstream politics,” he said. Stating that he had been a “political creature” from 12 to 47 years of age while being in Congress, he said, “After I joined the CPI(M) as a fellow traveller, for the past two decades, I was cut away from being an active political ‘creature'. Since I have invested myself for the Congress, I felt it was time to return to my ancestral house — Congress," said Philip while speaking to the media.

Philip’s return to Congress appeared to be on the cards when earlier this month, he openly criticised Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who has been his biggest supporter since the former left the Congress and joined the CPI(M) in 2001. The homecoming of Philip then became clearer earlier this week when he was given an award by two-time former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy. Way back in 2001, Philip revolted against the Congress party on being denied a ticket by Chandy.

"I was not ousted from the Congress party, instead I went out on my own. At that time I was upset with the Congress party as the same faces in the party were being fielded again and again. Now I feel that has changed and what I wanted then, has started to happen now," he said, adding that he is not looking for any posts or positions in Congress.

Philip was fielded in the Assembly polls by the CPI (M) in 2001, 2006 and 2011, but he failed to win. He was given plum posts, first as the chairman of the KTDC from 2006-11 and then a cabinet minister equivalent post in one of the pet projects of Pinarayi Vijayan from 2016 to 2021.

The relation between Pinarayi and Philip turned sour in April this year amid speculation that he would be nominated for the Rajya Sabha. But for the first time, Pinarayi failed to support him. Instead, he backed his closest aides — John Brittas who headed the Kairali TV, and V Sivadasan, who was looking after the social media operations of the party from the state party headquarters. Both of them went to the Upper House.

Since then, Philip started to maintain a distance from Pinarayi Vijayan. He refused to accept the post of the vice-chairman of the Kerala Khadi Board which was offered to him. He even took potshots at Pinarayi Vijayan for failing to rise to the occasion after the recent floods hit the state.

During his time with the CPI(M), Philip said he was treated with respect by all the leaders, and claimed he never asked for a Rajya Sabha seat, as he felt his domain was only state politics. "Even though I was given an Assembly seat to contest in the 2001, 2006 and 2011 Assembly elections by the CPI(M), none of it was a safe seat. The only thing I wished for was for a safe seat, but it never happened. I have the highest regard for all the CPI(M) leaders, who treated me well. Even though I know a lot of secrets, I will never ever reveal it," added Philip.

Just before he announced his decision to return to the Congress, he called on his long time mentor former Defence Minister AK Antony at his house. "We all know that Cherian did not get his due share in the Congress party and when he announced his decision to leave, it was a big shock for me. For almost three years, we did not have any communication. After that, we slowly renewed our old bond and since then we have had the best of relations. One big thing about him is that even though for two decades he was a fellow traveller of the CPI(M), never ever did he take the CPI(M) party membership. He has held only one flag and has been a member of only one political party and that's the Congress," said Antony.

Last month, two Congress leaders in Kerala —  general secretaries KP Anilkumar and G Rethikumar — left the party and joined CPI(M).