The Congress national leadership has reportedly moved quickly to purge ‘dissident’ veteran K. V. Thomas from the party’s primary membership. All India Congress Committee (AICC) has purportedly issued Prof. Thomas a notice to show cause why the party should not expel him for attending a Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] seminar in flagrant violation of the high command's diktat. An insider said the notice was the precursor of imminent disciplinary action.
The Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) had initiated the punitive move after Mr. Thomas attended a seminar on ‘challenges to federalism’ held in connection with the CPI(M)‘s 23rd party congress in Kannur.
At the venue, Prof. Thomas ‘heaped effusive praise’ on Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and ‘endorsed’ his political and economic agenda while remaining silent on ‘CPI(M)‘ violence that had claimed the life of scores of Congress workers in Kannur. Prof. Thomas, it seemed, appeared to risk becoming a despised figure among Congress activists overnight.
Nevertheless, Prof. Thomas seemed to moderate his ‘hard swerve’ to the left by endorsing the Nehruvian legacy, swearing by the Congress creed and also projecting Rahul Gandhi as the national leader of an ‘emerging’ anti-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) national front.
Prof. Thomas also appeared to play the martyr. The veteran sensed a casteist slur in KPCC president K. Sudhakaran's accusation that Prof. Thomas, with fisherfolk roots, had risen to wealth and political power, piggybacking on Congress's popularity. Prof. Thomas said the incumbent KPCC leadership was uncharacteristically intolerant to legitimate political discourse. It had punished him for his opinions and not anti-party work.
Mr. Sudhakaran countered that Prof. Thomas had ‘repaid’ his debt to the Congress by cavorting with its enemies. Mr. Thomas’s public shift to the left had revealed his year-long ‘secret trysts’ with CPI(M) leaders.
A party insider said Prof. Thomas was no outlier. He was the latest in a seemingly growing line of Congress leaders who would rather abandon ship and align with the left than help resurrect a party that had fallen to hard times. The trend, if not curbed, would foment an organisationally dangerous environment for Congress.