Congress in Kerala jolted by poll results in other states

Thiruvananthapuram, Dec 8 : The Kerala unit of the Congress was jolted Sunday by the massive loss the party suffered in Rajasthan and Delhi, and its poor showing in Madhya Pradesh, as trends of assembly polls to four states became clear Sunday.

In Chhattisgarh, the fourth state where counting of votes was progressing, the contest between the Congress and the ruling BJP was close.

The ruling Congress in Kerala, however, had this bit of consolation - the main opposition in the state, the CPI-M, had no presence to speak of in any of the four states where votes were counted Sunday.

The Congress has suffered heavy loss in Rajasthan, and has been unable to offer a challenge to the BJP government in Madhya Pradesh. It is also headed for a wipe-out in Delhi, where even Sheila Dikshit, three-time chief minister, lost in the New Delhi assembly constituency.

The Congress is in a neck-and-neck race in Chhattisgarh.

The Congress has also seen infighting in the states where it has suffered losses. In Kerala, this trend of infighting within the party is legendary.

In Kerala, the Congress has seen differences between Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and state party chief Ramesh Chennithala. On numerous occasions since Chandy assumed office in May 2011, serious differences of opinion within the party have robbed the sheen of programmes and projects undertaken by the state government.

Senior Congress leaders in the state like V.M. Sudheeran, K. Muraleedharan and T.N. Prathapan have criticised the functioning of the Chandy government, and aired their opinions in public.

The party has also faced ridicule from the opposition over the squabbling within its ranks.

In reaction to the announcement of trends of assembly poll results, P.C. George, the chief whip of the government, who belongs to the Kerala Congress-Mani, part of the ruling coalition in the state, told reporters: "If the Congress does not learn from this setback, it will be curtains drawn for it in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls. The party leaders should just mellow down."

State Industries Minister and Muslim League leader P.K. Kunhalikutty said the United Progressive Alliance should learn from these results.

"The Congress-led United Democratic Front (in Kerala) also should learn from this verdict and should work together," Kunhalikutty said.

State Congress chief Ramesh Chennithala, however, said this was hardly the first time his party was facing electoral reverses.

"The party will certainly introspect on what has happened and corrective steps would be taken," Chennithala said Sunday.

--IANS (Posted on 08-12-2013)

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