10 days before his 57th birthday, senior Congress legislator V.D. Satheesan on Saturday was appointed by the AICC as the new Leader of Opposition in the Kerala Assembly.
Incidentally, this by and large is seen as the first step of the AICC effecting a generation change in the Kerala unit of the Congress party.
Over the years the Congress party in Kerala has been held tightly under the faction leaders like two time Congress Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and outgoing leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala.
Following the rout of the Congress led UDF in the April 6 assembly polls when incumbent Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan won a resounding victory when it increased their tally from 91 seats to 99 in the 140-member Kerala Assembly, cries had begun that the need of the hour is to infuse young blood and the veterans have to move out.
Reacting to the fresh appointment, Satheesan said he is overwhelmed by the decision taken by the AICC and his primary objective is to see that secularism is upheld and will function as a responsible Leader of Opposition, both inside and outside the assembly.
“All political parties have to make changes and this could be seen as a change. Change is only natural and this is just what has happened. I expect full support from all sections as the only agenda before Congressmen is to see it come out from the present rout,” said Satheesan.
“I know a huge responsibility is bestowed before me as I am going to take a seat which was occupied by legends like Karunakaran, Antony, Chandy and Chennithala. Factions in the party have always been there in Kerala and it will continue as I also am part of a faction. Today the need of the hour is a resurrection of the party at all levels and that’s what every party member is wanting and I will play my part,” added Satheesan.
Chandy said that the Congress legislators here had met and given their choice and the final decision to choose the parliamentary party leader of the party was left to the AICC.
“And the decision has now come and Satheesan has been appointed and all will rally behind him and that’s it,” said Chandy.
Chennithala called up Satheesan and wished him all the best and pledged his full support.
Satheesan is a five time legislator and has been winning from the Paravur assembly constituency in Ernakulum district from 2001, however he lost from the same seat in his first attempt in 1996.
Now all eyes are on if the AICC will step in and get a new president in place of veteran Mullapally Ramachandran and also on the cards is a likely replacement of the UDF convenor and Congress veteran M.M. Hassan.