In yet another setback to Kerala Congress leader P J Joseph, a division bench of the Kerala High Court on Monday upheld the Central Election Commission's decision to allot the party's official election symbol -- Two Leaves -- to the faction led by Jose K Mani.
The bench, headed by the chief justice, rejected the appeal filed by Joseph challenging a single bench's order which upheld the election commission's decision.
On November 20, the single bench had quashed Joseph's petition against the commission's decision.
The latest court order comes on a day whn Jose K Mani is scheduled to launch a foot march in the Pala constituency ahead of the assembly polls.
Joseph had challenged the election commission's decision recognising the Jose K Mani faction as the official Kerala Congress (M) arguing that the central poll panel failed to count the number of the party's state committee members submitted by both the factions.
The State Election Commission had in November temporarily froze the "two leaves" symbol.
The state Election Commissioner V Bhaskaran issued an order freezing the symbol as both the fighting factions claimed ownership of the symbol.
Based on their request, the symbol of 'chenda' (drum) was allotted to the Joseph faction and 'table fan' to the Jose faction to contest in the local body elections.
Now, Jose K Mani faction will be allowed to use the 'two leaves' symbol in the upcoming assembly polls. Joseph is likely to request the commission to allot 'chenda' as its official symbol.
After severing its three-decades-old ties with the opposition Congress-led UDF, the Jose K Mani faction of the Kerala Congress (M) had joined the ruling CPM-led LDF recently ahead of the civic body polls. The party showed an impressive win in the polls.
The Jose faction's issues with the UDF leadership aggravated in June this year after it was "ousted" from the Congress-led Front in connection with the tussle over the Kottayam district panchayat chief post.