The state of Kerala Congress
At no point has the state of Kerala assumed so much significance for the Congress as now. Its star MP Rahul Gandhi is from here, as well as the party’s all powerful general secretary, K.C. Venugopal. In addition, as many as 15 Lok Sabha Congress members are from Kerala. Rahul’s Bharat Jodo Yatra spent about two weeks in Kerala (as opposed to two days in Uttar Pradesh). Moreover, the state was in the news recently when its most high-profile MP (after Rahul Gandhi, but that is also up for debate), Shashi Tharoor let it be known that he was keen to contest the 2026 state polls. This immediately had the state unit up in arms, with Ramesh Chennithala admonishing him not to be in a hurry to get his Chief Minister’s suit tailored. That said, it is unlikely that Venugopal would like to see Tharoor making inroads in his home state. Undaunted, Tharoor has been touring the state, meeting community and caste leaders—Christians, Muslims and even the powerful Nair community. Invited to speak at the 146th Mannath Jayanti to celebrate the birth anniversary of the founder of the Nair Service Society in Kottayam, Tharoor observed that “Mannath used to say that it is difficult to organise Nairs. He observed that one Nair cannot acknowledge another Nair. He said it a hundred years ago but in politics I often see that.” Interestingly, Tharoor is a Nair himself, as is Venugopal and other state Congress leaders, V.D. Satheesan (current leader of opposition) and Chennithala. As a footnote, Anil K. Antony, who just quit the Congress, is also from Kerala. Which does make you wonder about the state of God’s own country.
TO RESHUFFLE OR NOT?
Now with the Budget session of Parliament about to commence, it is unlikely that the Prime Minister will reshuffle his Council of Ministers any time soon. However, that never stops the speculation. While no one knows any names there is a broad consensus that the PM—and Amit Shah—would like there to be more focus on party work and would be sending some ministers back to the party. Their places could be filled with professionals and bureaucrats, apart from the mandatory representations from election going states and caste combinations. There is also talk that a couple of ministers who are being perceived as arrogant or incompetent could be downsized. (Neither is a good trait to showcase with Lok Sabha polls coming up). However, speculation of a reshuffle is always a great distraction when there isn’t any fodder to feed the news cycle, so the PM may just do nothing and end up keeping the hacks (and most of his party colleagues) distracted.
Rahul’s Security Lapse
Before its finale, the Bharat Jodo Yatra hit the headlines over a security lapse when his yatra was in the Kashmir valley. He had to call off the march for the day, though the yatra continued without him. According to security agencies the crowd waiting to greet Rahul at the end of Banihal tunnel was much larger than planned. It is understandable that the security agencies did not want to take a risk with Rahul’s security given the tragic history and threat perception for the Gandhis. It was also mature of Rahul to listen to the security agencies and not insist on walking just to prove a point. However, politics took over afterwards, with the Congress alleging a deliberate attempt by the BJP to thwart the yatra. But given that the BJP is crying itself hoarse claiming that political life has resumed in the valley post Article 370, why would it play the security card and trump its own claim?