The Congress party, for the first time, has attempted a revolutionary change while deciding its candidates for assembly election by replacing some of its veterans with fresh faces. KPCC president Mullappally Ramachandran, who is back from New Delhi after a busy week, speaks to TOI on how the party could bring about a generation change in the list.
How difficult was the candidate selection process and how could you manage so many new faces when there was hectic lobbying from the seniors and group managers?
Unlike in the past it was a laborious task to find out the most eligible candidates. In January, we had a meeting with AICC leader Rahul Gandhi, in which he said “I want a generation change” while finding the candidates. He also said if you are not coming with a list of the most deserving candidates, then he was not going to approve it. The message was loud and clear for all the leaders here.
The process began from there. For the first time the screening committee of the AICC came to Kerala to meet the leaders and the workers at the grassroots level. You should not believe that the list was made all of a sudden. All the names of the fresh faces were selected through a long process.
It is a fact that there was lobbying in a few places and we had to accommodate a few names. There was pressure on us and also on the high command on a few names. But you look at the larger picture. What we had claimed in the beginning, we have achieved it while finalising the names.
But the party is facing severe opposition in several constituencies and also from a few senior leaders. How are you going to persuade them?
There is no dearth of deserving candidates and leaders in the Congress. But in the process of finding candidates for an assembly election, it is not possible to satisfy all the deserved leaders. It is not new that some rumbling happens in the candidate selection process. Senior leaders of the party are in dialogue with them and have made it clear that their focus now should be on bringing back the UDF to power.
There will definitely be an intervention from the part of the KPCC to settle the issues raised by a few leaders. It is not just the parliamentary positions that everyone should look for. They will have responsibilities in the party after the elections. They will be getting due recognition.
Don’t you think that you have taken up a big challenge by bringing in more new faces? The responsibility also lies with the leadership to see to it that they are winning.
Yes, it is very true. It is a very huge challenge for us to ensure that all the fresh faces emerge victorious. Even though they lack experience in electioneering, all of them have a clean image and they have worked in the grassroots level. They have strong bonding with the people, which we will be exploiting. All of them are very committed and have good political sense. The entire party machinery will be there to support our new kids.
The Congress gave so much importance to Nemom. Why was it and what benefit are you expecting by fielding a senior leader like K Muraleedharan there?
It was the decision of the party that we should put up a strong fight against the BJP. The victory of their candidate in the last election was used as a tool to attack the Congress. Hence the party high command was very particular that we should take on the BJP at Nemom.
It will have a strong impact in all the constituencies. Now see the change that has happened in Nemom, the fight is between the Congress and the BJP there. The message that the Congress is prepared to take on the BJP in the state will greatly influence the voters. The hide and seek game blamed against the Congress will now have no effect. The people of Kerala have always welcomed such bold decisions. The party is sure that it will have a strong impact in other constituencies too.