Rahul Gandhi with KC Venugopal
Rahul Gandhi with KC Venugopal

Being KC Venugopal: Rahul Gandhi's trusted lieutenant

In a political party, having recognisable initials is a marker for power and influence—sometimes all you need are a couple of letters: KC. TNM profiles KC Venugopal, Rahul Gandhi’s close confidante.

It's rare to see Congress leader Rahul Gandhi without his companion clad in a starched khadi shirt and dhoti. When faced with questions, Rahul often says, "Check with KC," referring to KC Venugopal, a seasoned politician from Kerala. How did KC become Rahul's confidante, and why does Rahul trust him? These questions reveal a mixed opinion among Congress leaders about KC, who holds the powerful position of General Secretary (Organisation) of the Congress party. Venugopal has both strong admirers and detractors- mainly the latter. One insider, who is close to both Rahul and KC, said that he ticks three boxes that are crucial for Rahul. We will discuss this in detail later.

Various leaders we spoke with from different states highlighted the Congress's abysmal failure in forming a government in Goa in 2017, as the incident which solidified Rahul's unwavering trust in KC Venugopal. During the crucial period of government formation, senior leader Digvijay Singh, who was Congress-in-charge of Goa, was caught napping. While Digvijay Singh remained inactive, Amit Shah acted swiftly, gathered independent MLAs, and formed a BJP government in Goa. Singh's failure underscored KC's reliability for Rahul. The two had already developed a close bond as they sat next to each other in Parliament. KC, serving as the Goa screening committee chief, had warned the party high command about the lethargy that ultimately cost them the opportunity to form a government in the state. Two years later, KC was made the General Secretary (Organisation), one of the most powerful persons in the Congress after the party president and the Gandhis.


On April 11, TNM joined KC Venugopal’s campaign in Alappuzha constituency’s Haripad. The campaign team was on a lunch break at Haripad MLA and Congress Working Committee member Ramesh Chennithala’s office. A request to meet was made to three of his associates, all of whom turned to his private secretary Sharath Chandran. “Sir is upstairs in his room, let’s see,” was the response. An hour or so later, another Congress worker who’s come seeking an audience with KC told us what was the best approach: “Ramesh Chennithala is there in his room, just knock at his door and enter, and tell him you’ve come for a meeting with KC Venugopal.” A pleasantly smiling Chennithala did the needful, and soon enough, we were allowed to go upstairs, where KC’s room was. But the knock-and-enter freedom was not allowed there, as Sharath stood outside the door, asking us to be patient.

We were later granted a short interview while KC waved at voters from an open vehicle that took him through the constituency. Accompanying him was Chennithala. The difference between the leaders was unmistakable — Chennithala was cheerful and looked people in their faces when he waved at them, while KC’s body language seemed distant.

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