Can Ramesh Chennithala repeat Congress' history in Kerala?
Thiruvananthapuram: All the Congress leaders, who have occupied the post of Leader of Opposition in the Kerala Assembly, have gone on to become chief ministers.
With just around 18 months left for the next Assembly elections in the state, it remains to be seen if Ramesh Chennithala, the present Leader of Opposition, too will get lucky.
All of Chennithala's predecessors -- K. Karunakaran, A. K. Antony and Oommen Chandy -- have gone on to helm the state after being the Leader of the Opposition. What increases Chennithala's chances is Kerala's record of not repeating governments.
However, Chennithala faces competition former chief minister Oommen Chandy, now the only mass leader in the party. The factionalism-ridden Kerala Congress, at present, is a house divided between Chennithala and Chandy.
Though the party's other heavyweight A. K. Antony has indicated stepping away from state politics, there are two other contenders to the crown -- state Congress President Mullapally Ramachandran and the party's newest strongman in Delhi Congress, AICC General Secretary (organisation) K. C. Venugopal.
Though the Congress-led United Democratic Front's resounding win in 19 out of 20 seats in the Lok Sabha polls in May strengthened Chennithala's position in the party, its performance in the recent Assembly bypolls -- losing three of the six seats -- has come a cropper.
There are doubts over the party's chances in the local bodies polls to be held next year and the Assembly polls in May 2021.
Speaking to IANS, a senior Congress legislator even pointed out weaknesses in Chennithala's style of functioning.
"He seems to put up a good performance in the Assembly and is always there at the forefront of everything, but many feel, he lacks what leaders like Karunakaran, Antony and Chandy had when it came to winning the confidence of others. There is something lacking in Chennithala and I doubt if he has the full confidence of leaders in Congress and the allies," said the legislator, who did not wish to be identified.
It remains to be seen if this Leader of the Opposition will be able to get past the hurdles in his way and ultimately reach for the crown.