Firebrand leader K Sudhakaran is new KPCC chief

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(Eds: Adds details) Thiruvananthapuram, Jun 8 (PTI): Weeks after suffering a drubbing in the crucial assembly polls, the Congress on Tuesday appointed senior leader and member of Parliament, K Sudhakaran as the new president of Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC), party sources here said.

The party high command picked the 73-year old leader for the top post replacing Mullappally Ramachandran after days-long discussions in the state and in New Delhi.

Currently representing Kannur constituency in the Lok Sabha for the second time, he was also a four-time MLA and served as a minister in the A K Antony cabinet during the 2001-2004 period.

A firebrand leader and an arch critic of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Sudhakaran has been known as the party's face in Kannur, a traditional Left fortress.

Known for his sharp speeches and daring personality, he has a strong follower base in northKerala especially in the politicallyvolatile Kannur.

He is generally considered as one of the few Congress leaders who are strong enough to take on the ruling CPI(M) in their citadel.

Soon after the party-led UDF suffered a mauling in the Assembly polls from the ruling LDF and settled with just 41 seats, there had been a clamour for leadership change in the state unit of the Congress.

When vibrant leader V D Satheesan was appointed as the new legislative party leader last month, it was almost certain that there would be a change in the KPCC chief post also.

Since there were reports that Ramachandran had expressed his willingness to quit as KPCC chief, a section of leaders and activists had flooded the Congress high command with requests to give Sudhakaran a chance to revive the grand old party in the state.

No other major names had been cropped up for the post as the leaders of the factions including Oommen Chandy and Ramesh Chennithala reportedly did not make any suggestion.

After Satheesan, Sudhakaran's appointment was also generally viewed as a strong message from the party high command to the leaders and workers in the state to rise above group equations.

Meanwhile, Sudhakaran told reporters here that Rahul Gandhi informed him about the new responsibility over the phone.

Stating that he would try all possible ways to revive the party in the state and regain the confidence of cadres, the leader said he is entrusted with the big responsibility of bringing back the Congress to its erstwhile organisational set up.

'I will try to take everyone in the party together and seek their support and cooperation to revive the party. The Congress will surely regain its strength and will make a strong comeback in the state,' he added.PTI LGKSS PTI PTI

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