Senior Congress leader A.K. Antony on Sunday asked his partymen to ensure that the upcoming organisational polls, if they take place, should not end up in fracas.He said this while speaking to reporters at his home here soon after renewing his party membership.State Congress President M.M. Hassan along with numerous party workers met Antony and handed him papers of his renewed membership."My opinion is that if there is going to be organisational polls, they should not end up in fracas. Whether one needs the poll or not has to be decided upon at the respective levels through consensus. The need of the hour is that new people should come forward and be given an opportunity."The last date for renewal or taking fresh membership in Kerala has been fixed for May 15 and after that, if needed, election will be held for office-bearers, starting from the grassroots.Last time the Kerala unit of the Congress elected a president through ballot was in 1991 when Antony lost to Vayalar Ravi. It took place when the factional feud in the party reached a crescendo with K. Karunakaran, reigning supreme in the party, backing Ravi.Since then the office-bearers of the Congress party in Kerala have all been nominated by the party high command.
The two factions in the party till the late '90s were led by Karunakaran, the Antony faction's master brain Oommen Chandy.Since the turn of the century, with Karunakaran getting old and Antony shifting base to Delhi, Chandy emerged as the strongman in the party, with Ramesh Chennithala coming up in the space left by Karunakaran.Even though the two Chandy and Chennithala), have been maintaining cordial relations, at times altercations have erupted and none knows better than Antony that if his partymen do not behave, it could be a point of no return.The Congress party's loss could well be gain for the BJP, which for the first time opened its account in the 140-member Kerala assembly when former Union Minister and senior BJP leader O. Rajagopal won the Nemom seat here.The coming weeks will reveal how things shape up for the Congress in Kerala, as a new team of office-bearers will take over the party and all what remains to be seen is whether it would be a smooth affair.