Loyalty To Party Would Remain Unchanged But Emotionally Distressed Over CWC Exclusion: Cong Leader Chennithala

Senior Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala said he had held the post 19 years ago when Sonia Gandhi was the All India Congress Committee president, and he felt 'strange' when he was re-appointed to the same position.

Congress Working Committee meeting going on at the party headquarters in New Delhi.

Senior Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala, who was not included as a Congress Working Committee (CWC) member, said on Monday that his loyalty to the party would remain unchanged forever but he was emotionally distressed at not being considered for the key post in the top decision-making body.

Chennithala, who was named only as a permanent invitee to the CWC, said he had held the post 19 years ago when Sonia Gandhi was the AICC president, and he felt "strange" when he was re-appointed to the same position.

"It is true that I faced some emotional distress when the news of the formation of the CWC came out," he said. Yet he expressed how important to him the party is.

"I have never left my party or rejected the party. ...Congress is in my life and breath," the senior leader told reporters here, breaking his silence over the issue, days after he actively participated in the celebrations for the party candidate's victory in the Puthuppally Assembly bypoll.

The Haripad MLA said he had feelings like any other human being when he had to step down as Leader of the Opposition in the State Assembly soon after the Assembly polls in 2021. 

"The problem was not that I lost that position; I was against the way that the problem was handled. There were some communication gaps," Chennithala said.

Chennithala was replaced by V D Satheesan as Leader of Opposition in the state assembly by the Congress high command after the party-led UDF was routed by the CPI(M)-led LDF in the 2021 Assembly polls.

The former state home minister said despite not being in a key position for the past two years, he actively worked with discipline for the party and stood up for the people.

"After that, the announcement of the working committee came. There seemed to be some inconsistencies in it. At the national level, many people who are my junior have been placed on the working committee", Chennithala said.
Asserting that he is a loyal worker of the Congress, he said he has always accepted any decision taken by the party and that it has addressed his grievances whenever he has taken them up with the leadership.

He said he would convey to the high command whatever he has to say on the CWC issue.

Chennithala, under whose leadership leaders like AICC general secretary K C Venugopal and Leader of Opposition Satheesan worked during his good old days in the party, was hoping to get recognition as a CWC member.

However, the senior leader was included in the key committee of the Congress only as a permanent invitee, a post he had held 19 years ago, while Shashi Tharoor, who joined the Congress party only over a decade ago, was made a CWC member.

Chennithala said those who have found a place in the CWC from the state Congress, including senior leader A K Antony,  Venugopal, Tharoor and special invitee Kodkikkunnil Suresh, are eligible for the post.

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge last month reconstituted the party's top decision-making body -- CWC -- with some leaders of the G23 grouping, including in it Tharoor and Anand Sharma, who were critical of the party leadership in the past, among the 84 members.

The all-important Congress Working Committee, formed 10 months after Kharge took charge after defeating Tharoor in the party president elections, includes several young faces who are below the age of 50, leaders from weaker sections, and 15 women.

The new CWC has 39 regular members, 32 permanent invitees, including some in-charges of states, and 13 special invitees, including presidents of the Youth Congress, the National Students' Union of India, the Mahila Congress, and the Seva Dal as ex-officio members.