With the Congress high command deciding to give up its Rajya Sabha (RS) seat for the sake of its former ally Kerala Congress (Mani) faction, voices of dissent have risen within the party.
Even as Congress leaders in Kerala admit that the move was to appease its former ally and to make Kerala Congress (M) join the array of parties who will come together for the 2019 polls, the decision has left several leaders fuming.
Among the leaders who have publicly expressed their disappointment are MLAs VT Balram, Hibi Eden, Anik Akkara, KS Sabarinathan, Shafi Parambil and Roji M John.
Speaking to TNM, Thrithala MLA VT Balram said that it was not the party's decision, but the decision of a few leaders in the state, to give up the seat for KC (M).
"This possibility has never been discussed with us in any meetings. It has not come up in the KPCC executive or any other forums. The decision to give up the seat for KC (M) is the personal decision of a few leaders. KC (M) is not even an ally of the United Democratic Front (UDF) as of now and there was no need of giving them the RS seat, at a time when they themselves were not thinking about it. These leaders have no mandate to give away the RS seat to another party, that is not even an ally. The responsibility of any consequences that may arise, lies solely with these leaders ," Balram said.
He is among the six MLAs who have written to AICC President Rahul Gandhi, seeking his intervention to rethink the decision taken by the Congress in Kerala.
"This has betrayed the sentiments of ordinary Congress workers in Kerala and is a huge humiliation for them. The Congress leaders in Kerala have made it look like the decision was taken with the knowledge of Rahul Gandhi, but this is not true. What was the need to take Jose K Mani and Kunhalikutty to meet Rahul Gandhi in New Delhi?" Balram asked.
Aruvikkara MLA KS Sabarinadhan called the party's decision a "suicidal move," and that the party should take a decision with a wider national perspective.
"Politically, it is in the RS that we counter BJP the most. At times like these, you need to have a nationalistic voice who can speak for the Congress party in the RS, because it is critical. When you send someone to the upper house, it should have a wider national perspective, rather than for coalition appeasement," he said.
Angamaly MLA Roji M John says that the party's decision will be evaluated as a downfall. He said that although it was done to pave way for KC (M) to return to the UDF, it should not have been done at the cost of giving up the RS seat.
"The sentiments of the party workers is that we should not have given up the RS seat. RS seat is given to an ally when there are more than one seat up for grabs. That is what we have been doing for years, but this decision is not in line with what the party has been doing. That is exactly why there is resistance from many quarters," MLA Roji pointed out.
He added that the same sentiment is coming from across party workers in the state.
"We have just echoed the feelings of the party workers, that's all. I think the party leadership should have been more careful and made sure that the Congress gets its due share in coalition politics," Roji said.
Meanwhile, KC (M) supremo KM Mani said on Friday that he will not contest the RS polls, but will announce the candidate soon.
Three seats, including the one held by senior Congress leader PJ Kurien will fall vacant on July 1 and the election is to be held on June 21.