After LDF rout, KC(M)’s return to UDF camp looks imminent

Jose K Mani, K Sudhakaran, Pinarayi Vijayan. Photo: Manorama.

Kochi: The Lok Sabha election results in Kerala wherein the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) suffered a rout has opened up possibilities of changes in political equations in the state. Kerala Congress (M)’s return to the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) seems sooner than later if reactions from stakeholders are anything to go by.
Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president K Sudhakaran on Thursday extended an invite to the KC(M), now an ally of the LDF, while inside information from the Jose K Mani-led party indicates it would not be reluctant to return.

In the Lok Sabha election, the KC(M) lost its lone Kottayam seat where the party’s sitting MP Thomas Chazhikadan was defeated by Francis George of the Kerala Congress faction led by PJ Joseph. Chazhikadan was elected to the Lok Sabha in 2019 when he contested as the candidate of the undivided KC(M).
The party split ahead of the 2021 assembly polls and the faction led by Jose joined the CPM-led LDF which retained power in the state. The Left Front’s poll debacle in the state is mainly attributed to a strong anti-incumbency wave against the Pinarayi Vijayan-led government. There is an overwhelming feeling within the political circles that if the trend continues it would be difficult for the alliance in the 2026 assembly polls.

The uncertainty over the Rajya Sabha seat represented by Jose has also triggered talks within the KC(M) about a possible return to the Congress-led camp. Jose’s parliamentary term will expire on July 1. So is the case with CPI state secretary Binoy Viswam and CPM’s Elamaram Kareem. Both the CPI and the KC(M) have staked claim for a vacant seat and the CPM will have to relinquish the seat it can win to either of its allies to resolve the crisis. With its Lok Sabha numbers being restricted to just four, including the lone seat from Kerala, the CPM is unlikely to make the sacrifice.
If the Rajya Sabha seat is denied, the KC(M) will end up having no representation in the parliament even though it is part of the opposition INDIA bloc. “If they are intelligent enough, they will allot one seat to us,” a KC(M) state leader told Onmanorama on condition of anonymity, clearly suggesting that his party will be forced to take a tough call otherwise.

The leader admitted that a strong anti-incumbency wave against the Pinarayi government was the major reason for the state-wide debacle the Left Front suffered in the polls. “If corrective measures are not taken, things will not be safe in the state Assembly elections too,” he said.
Asked about Sudhakaran’s invite, the KC(M) leader said the lack of unity among the Congress leadership was a concern for the party. Sudhakaran was careful when he met reporters in Kannur. He said he was airing his personal opinion when he welcomed KC(M) back to the UDF. He said he was even ready to talk to the KC(M) leadership if needed.

Sudhakaran sought to play an emotional card to woo the KC(M) supporters by invoking the memories of the late KM Mani who founded the party. “Mani was one of the strongest leaders of the UDF. We can never forget him,” he said. Asked if doors were open for Jose, Sudhakaran said, “I cannot do it alone, the party has to decide”.
Leader of the Opposition VD Satheesan was, however, quick to contradict Sudhakaran. Satheesan said there was no talk within the UDF of taking back KC(M). A possible explanation for Satheesan’s rebuttal could be that he wants the Congress to play the big boss and the KC(M) to initiate the talks.

Was LDF entry a loss deal for KC(M)?
KC(M) used to enjoy a strong clout within the UDF during the days of Mani and it was the dispute over power sharing in Kottayam district panchayat that led to it parting ways with the Congress.
Though Jose contested the 2021 assembly polls from Pala, the party’s stronghold, on the LDF ticket, he could not win. The party lost in eight of the 13 seats it contested despite a pro-LDF wave. The KC(M) used to have two cabinet berths when it was part of the UDF dispensations. However, the LDF allotted only one cabinet berth and it had to be content with the chief whip’s post after it joined the LDF.
The party has lost power in Kottayam district panchayat and Pala municipality after it severed ties with the Congress. There is a general perception that the tie-up between the KC(M) and the CPM has not worked out on the ground.

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