The Congress appears split over whether or not to cooperate with the meeting of MPs and MLAs called by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to discuss the COVID-19 crisis on May 26.
K. Muraleedharan, MP, says he would boycott the meeting. There are reports that K. Sudhakaran and Rajmohan Unnithan, both MPs, would follow suit.
The MPs’ stance is in variance with the position of Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala and United Democratic Front (UDF) convener Benny Behanan, MP. Both have indicated that they would attend the videoconference.
The Indian Union Muslim League and the Kerala Congress (M), two major United Democratic Front constituents, have not said they are averse to the conference. Notably, the parties have not been overtly critical of the government's handling of the COVID-19 crisis.
The Congress has neither endorsed or rejected the stance of Mr Muraleedharan.
For some, Mr. Muraleedharan’s stance appears consistent with the position of the Congress that the government has used the pandemic to reap political dividends and to denigrate the Opposition. They feel the government has called the meeting belatedly.
Mr. Vijayan appears to have struck a reconciliatory tone in the run-up to the meeting. In his weekly television column, the Chief Minister says the Opposition also works for the people, and their views would help inform the government.
The meeting falls on the occasion of the government’s fourth anniversary. Mr. Chennithala has issued a set of charges against the government and attempts to punch holes in its claims. He has accused Mr. Vijayan of having adopted an authoritarian style. He has slammed the government on several counts, including the use of taxpayers’ money to defend the accused in political murder cases.