Senior Congress leader and outgoing Rajya Sabha MP PJ Kurien has expressed reservations over the party leadership’s decision to offer the lone Rajya Sabha seat from Kerala to Kerala Congress (M). The Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman on Wednesday said that the move will help the BJP cement its hold in the state and sharpen communal polarisation.
According to a report in The Indian Express, the leader reminded the party about the controversial decision in 2012 of giving five ministerial berths to ally Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) which had plunged the state unit into a crisis then. He said that the decision was not liked by many Hindu organisations as the number of ministers from the minority communities – Muslims and Christians — had exceeded 12, more than that of Hindus.
“Giving the Rajya Sabha seat to Kerala Congress (M), a Christian party is similar to that fifth minister issue. Giving the seat to Kerala Congress (M) will not help or benefit the Congress in any way. It will only increase communal polarisation in Kerala, and the benefit of that will go to the BJP,” he told The Indian Express.
Kurien also confirmed to the daily that he had written two letters to Congress president Rahul Gandhi to share his view and advocated nominating a Congress leader from the state for the Rajya Sabha. The Congress leader said that he had made it clear to Rahul that he will not object if the party decides to send anyone from the Congress to the Upper House.
“I did not stake claim for the seat. At the same time, I would not have rejected it had it been given to me. I had made it clear to the Congress president that I would not have any problem – rather, I would be happy if the seat is given to another Congressman. I had suggested some names also.”
In a surprising move last week, the Congress party had decided to offer the lone Rajya Sabha seat to the Kerala Congress (M). The state Congress leadership said that that the decision was taken after receiving a go-ahead from Rahul. However, this decision was not welcomed by many of the state leaders who openly criticised former CM Oommen Chandy and Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala.
Three Rajya Sabha seats in Kerala including that of Kurien are falling vacant this month. Elections will be held on June 21.