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Unnithan quits as party spokesperson as war of words erupts in Congress

Unnithan quits as party spokesperson as war of words erupts in Congress

Thiruvananthapuram: The faction-ridden Congress party in Kerala, which is passing through tough times since the severe drubbing it got during the May assembly polls, on Tuesday saw two senior leaders sparring in public.

A bitter exchange of words took place between legislator K. Muraleedharan -- son of K. Karunakaran -- and party spokesperson Rajmohan Unnithan, both known for their razor-sharp tongues.

Muraleedharan opened up by stating that the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) opposition is a weak one and has not been able to cash in on the dismal performance of the CPI-M-led Pinarayi Vijayan government.

He also said that nothing has been done to fire up the party cadres.

This irked Unnithan, who went personal in countering Muraleedharan, told the media that the Congress workers were shocked to see Muraleedharan attending a non-party meeting, along with Vijayan in the UAE, when the death anniversary of Karunakaran was being observed across the state.

"I have been a party member for the past 48 years and throughout my career, I worked for the party from my heart. Muraleedharan first ditched his father, then abused even Sonia Gandhi and other top leaders and then floated a new party.

"After that, he caught the feet of these leaders and returned," said Unnithan.

Soon after this, Muraleedharan hit back by saying that the death anniversary ceremonies are observed based on the Malayalam month and stars, and he himself did all the temple functions on December 16.

"What does he (Unnithan) know? And I went to the UAE to attend the programme of the Indian Association. I do not wish to say anything more on this," Muraleedharan told reporters here.

In Kerala, there are three Congress factions -- one led by former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, the second by Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala and the third headed by the party's state unit president V.M. Sudheeran.

Ahead of the polls, the three had often said that it is a collective leadership, and even after the drubbing the party received, the three top leaders were trying to put up a united front.

But later, while Chandy announced that he would not be in the race for any post, Sudheeran continued to hold on to his post and Chennithala took over as the Leader of Opposition.

Things took a turn for the worse early this month when the 14 district party presidents were announced and Chandy's men were sidelined. It irked him and his faction -- the biggest of the three.

After this, Chandy has been taking a tough position on every issue and even though he has been maintaining a stoic silence, his faction leaders have started to speak up.

"There are no issues in the party and I see what Muraleedharan said in a positive note. I am open to criticism and each and every Congressman in the state wishes to see their party strong. All such criticism will only help to achieve that," Chennithala told reporters.

He, however, did not respond to the statements of Unnithan, who later put in his papers as the spokesperson of the party. As per reports, his resignation has been accepted.

While Unnithan has his allegiance towards Sudheeran, Muraleedharan of late has moved from the Chennithala camp to the Chandy faction.

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