In Delhi, while G-23 Congress leaders are believed to have blamed the Gandhi family for the debacle in recent state polls, the villain in Kerala is none other than 58-year-old KC Venugopal, the closest collaborator of MP Wayanad Rahul Gandhi.
Shortly after the failure, posters appeared near the party office in Sreekandapuram of Kannur, which read “Save the Congress – thanks to Venugopal for what happened in 5 states where the Congress was wiped out”.
Apparently, Venugopal hails from Kannur which is also the home district of the state party chairman, K. Sudhakaran.
Since being named Congress General Secretary for Organizational Affairs, Venugopal’s stock has grown, leaving veterans and seasoned party seniors behind.
The new congressional strongman’s growth trajectory began when, in the 1990s, his closeness to the all-powerful K. Karunakaran gave him the initial impetus.
His closeness to Rahul Gandhi helped him land Rajasthan’s nomination for the Upper House and since then he has ruled the roost much to the chagrin of veterans like Oommen Chandy, Ramesh Chennithala and also Sudhakaran.
Venugopal’s discretion in allocating seats in the April 2021 Assembly polls led Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to set records to secure a second term. When things went haywire, the high command of the Congress party took over and appointed VD Satheesan as leader of the opposition, even when Chennithala had the majority support of lawmakers.
A media critic who spoke on condition of anonymity said few members of Congress had any idea of Venugopal’s sudden rise.
“One of the reasons is that AK Antony, 81, is in all likelihood back home in the state capital after his current term in the Upper House ends on April 2. Rahul Gandhi wanted to find someone one he felt more comfortable with than the seasoned veterans based in Kerala, Venugopal’s fortunes soared. And Venugopal used the strike theory when the iron is hot and surged forward,” said said the critic.
Meanwhile, there are reports that Venugopal seems to have moved away from Sudhakaran and decided to team up with Satheesan, whose sudden promotion didn’t go down well with veterans here. They know that no one can advance without a faction and the last faction in the party is known as the KD faction – a new alliance between Satheesan and Venugopal.
With the G-23 also running its vent against Venugopal, if the party’s first family decides on an overthrow, then Venugopal’s future would be in jeopardy as it has very little support here.