Pressure is mounting on former Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy to take up the leadership of the now fragmented UDF, following the exit of Kerala Congress (Mani) from the alliance.
Several Congress and United Democratic Front leaders have approached the party high command with requests that Chandy should return to lead the Congress-led UDF.
Senior Congress leaders M.M. Jacob, Vakkom Purushothaman and K. Sankaranarayanan, all former ministers and former governors, wished that Chandy should return to steer the UDF out of the present impasse.
"He is a very clever leader and one should never underestimate Chandy. He will have to return," said Purushothaman.
Chandy had refused to take up the post of Leader of Opposition or of chairman of the UDF.
Chandy has said a polite no to all media persons who are approaching him for an interview, and when asked why he is not holding a press meet to address various issues, he replies, "I am only an MLA now."
The demands that Chandy should return has strengthened ever since the third biggest ally of the UDF-Kerala Congress (Mani), one of the founders of the UDF formed 34 years back, quit the front last Sunday citing that they were treated shabbily.
And while other leaders from the Congress and UDF spoke harshly against Mani, the master politician that Chandy is – was modest in his reaction and said that he is shocked by the decision.
Chandy had reached Mani’s residence last week to urge that he not to do anything drastic, but it fell on deaf ears, when last Sunday his party decided to walk out of the UDF.
With Chandy making his decision to be out of any position, the leadership mantle fell on Ramesh Chennithala who was made leader of opposition and the UDF chairman.
Chandy’s skill of managing the coalition was seen during the entire five-year period when he was the Chief Minister (2011-16) and chairman of the UDF. Not many had given Chandy any chance to survive the full term as the UDF began with just a two-seat majority in the 140-member assembly after the 2011 polls.
"He continues to be in shock over the electoral reverse, which he never ever expected to be this bad," a close aide of Chandy said.
Chandy, who turns 73 in October, has won every election he contested from his home constituency – Puthupally in Kottayam district since 1970 – and even though he is just a legislator, his office and home continue to be the most crowded with numerous people coming to see him for various needs.
Many believe that Chandy will return to a top post once the organisational elections of the Congress party is held here later this year.