Rift in Kerala Congress (M) leaves Pala candidate without 'Two Leaves'

Rift in Kerala Congress (M) leaves  Pala candidate without 'Two Leaves' symbol
P J Joseph and Jose K Mani.

The United Democratic Front (UDF) candidate for Pala byelection Jose Tom will not contest on the party symbol, Two Leaves due to the tussle between the P J Joseph and Jose K Mani led factions.

Kerala Congress (M) Working Chairman P J Joseph on Tuesday said Jose cannot contest with the party symbol.

Joseph said he was not inclined to sign the nomination papers of the candidate as he had been suspended from the party.

Chief Electoral Officer Teeka Ram Meena had stated the party symbol will be allotted on the basis of the recommendations provided by the party's Chairman or the Working Chairman in the absence of the former.

Joseph has to issue an official letter if the candidate has to contest the elections under the party symbol.

Kerala Congress leader Stephen George had approached the Election Commission for the symbol of 'Two Leaves'.

The Kerala Congress (M) Jose K Mani faction leaders argued that the candidate was chosen by the KC (M) Steering Committee.

The Jose K Mani faction controls the Steering Committee.

The EC is of the view that while the Steering Committee had the right to select the candidate, it cannot allocate the symbol.

Jose K Mani's backers are of the view that there was no need to negotiate with the Joseph faction for the symbol.

While the UDF hopes for an amicable settlement, Joseph's obstinate stance has put the alliance in a tough spot. When the tussle between Jose K Mani and PJ Joseph factions of Kerala Congress(M) resulted in an impasse, the UDF had stepped in to choose the Pala candidate. The Pala seat fell vacant after the demise of party chairman K M Mani, the father of Jose K Mani.

Senior leader Jose Tom Pulikunnel from the Jose K Mani faction was fielded as a result.

NCP leader Mani C Kappan and Kottayam BJP chief N Hari are the LDF and NDA candidates in Pala. Mani C Kappan had been able to bring down the margin of the veteran leader KM Mani to 4,703 in the 2016 assembly elections from 5,259 words in 2011 and 7,759 votes in 2006.

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