Cong kicks off membership drive

The Congress on Sunday kicked off a 15-day renewed membership campaign, hoping for a trouble-free, but competitive organisational election due to be completed by October 30.

The official Statewide inauguration was held at booth number 92 in Jagathy ward of Thiruvananthapuram Corporation with Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president M.M. Hassan symbolically handing over Congress Working Committee member A.K. Antony the membership in the party. The membership campaign will conclude on May 15. The party has directed KPCC office-bearers, DCC presidents, serving and former MPs and MLAs and former ministers to get involved in the membership distribution in their booths.

Later, Mr. Hassan said the membership campaign was an apt start to the efforts to strengthen the party and recapture its prime place in national politics and lead the secular parties in a combined fight against the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Mr. Antony was optimistic about completing the organisational election on the basis of consensus. Despite attempts by party leaders to play up the consensus angle, factions appear to be keen on gaining the upper hand in the conduct of party affairs. The party high command has accepted the fact that mobilising party workers on a factional basis is imperative in Kerala.

Party leaders firmly believe that the consensus process will be successful in accommodating various sections. In a direct election, the winner takes the entire stakes, leaving behind several sections. Once the membership campaign concludes, the Congress Election Authority will step in to oversee the organisational polls.

AICC vice-president has been holding a series of exercises to ensure that a new KPCC president is installed in the State in a non-disruptive manner. If the party sticks to its traditional methods, then the incoming KPCC president would be from the Oommen Chandy faction. The recent elevation of K.C. Venugopal and P.C. Vishnunath as AICC general secretary and secretary respectively, opens up more political space for experiments for the party leadership.

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