Thiruvananthapuram: Estranged former top Congress leader Cherian Phillip, who has openly criticised Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan- his biggest supporter since he left the Congress and became a fellow traveller of the CPI-M in 2001- on Thursday October 21 got the first green signal that he is welcome to return to the grand-old party.
Incidentally, the first call to the 67-year-old Phillip, a bachelor, came from Lok Sabha member K. Muraleedharan- son of K. Karunakaran, who defeated Phillip at the 2011 Assembly elections.
“He is definitely welcome to return to the Congress, but for that, it’s him who has to take a call. I know him for long and even though we contested against each other in the 2011 polls, we know that he is a real Congressman. So let him make the first move and if he is willing, he will be definitely welcomed, said Muraleedharan.
Now all eyes are on a function where Phillip is to be presented with an award for his social commitment to be presented by two-time former Congress Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on October 25.
Incidentally, way back in 2001, on being denied a ticket by Chandy who ran the affairs of the Antony faction, Phillip revolted and quit the Congress, only to be fielded by the CPI-M against the former in the 2001 Assembly polls.
It was an easy win for Chandy at his home turf in Puthupally in Kottayam district.
The relation between Vijayan and Phillip turned sour in April this year amid speculations that he will be nominated for the Rajya Sabha.
But, for the first time the Chief Minister failed to support him and instead, backed his closest aides John Brittas- who headed the Kairali TV and V. Sivadasan who was handling the party’s social media operations- and both were elected to the upper house.
Since then, Phillip started distancing himself from Vijayan and he refused the post of the vice-chairman of the Kerala Khadi Board, offered to him. Recently, he took potshots at Vijayan for failing to rise to the occasion after the recent floods hit the state.
Asked about Phillip drifting away from the CPI-M, the senior Left leader was, however, guarded in his response.
Meanwhile, on Thursday, Phillip shared a post in Facebook that he will be launching his own You Tube channel from January and airing his frank opinion on issues.
So, the ball is now in his court and one will have to wait and watch which way he is going to kick it.