EC freezes 'Two Leaves' symbol as Kerala Congress (M) feud rages

EC freezes 'Two Leaves' symbol as Kerala Congress (M) feud rages
Kerala Congress (M) leaders P J Joseph (L) and Jose K Mani.

New Delhi: The Election Commission (EC) has frozen the 'Two Leaves' symbol of Kerala Congress (Mani) till January 20 after a complaint filed by Jose K Mani faction alleging that the rival P J Joseph group was misusing the symbol. The EC took the action following preliminary hearing based on the complaint.

The Commission has scheduled a detailed hearing on January 20 to take a final decision regarding the symbol.

Both Jose K Mani and P J Joseph factions of Kerala Congress (Mani) have been at loggerheads over the party’s election symbol, chairman’s post and administrative powers since last year following the death of party founder K M Mani.

Jose K Mani said that the decision to freeze the symbol was taken following our complaint that Jospeh was misusing the symbol. With this, the powers of Joseph to issue whips to members of the legislative assembly and other local bodies have also been frozen, Jose K Mani stated.

However, Joseph said that the powers for issuing whips have not been frozen. The decision was regarding the symbol only. This has no impact as there were no elections before January 20, Joseph argued.

The Jose K Mani faction moved the Election Commission after the party' state committee elected Jose K Mani as its chairman. The other faction had elected Joseph as the chairman.

Senior advocate Vallabh Sisodia who appeared for the Jose K Mani faction before the Commission pointed out that of the 450 members in the state committee, 312 supported Jose K Mani. He argued that the attested report of the state returning officer appointed by the party to oversee the election process proved this.

However, Joseph faction disputed the veracity of the list of state committee members. He asked for more time to submit the original list of state committee members.

Kuttanad candidate

Meanwhile, the state camp of the Kerala Congress is scheduled to be held on Tuesday and Wednesday at Charalkunnu, near Ranni.

The camp is likely to arrive at a consensus on the candidate for the Kuttanad which fell vacant following the demise of sitting MLA and former Transport Minister Thomas Chandy of the NCP.

The Jose K Mani faction has decided to ask the UDF not to entertain the claims of Joseph faction for the Kuttanad seat. The decision to allot the seat to Joseph faction in the 2016 assembly election was an interim measure. This was in exchange of the Punalur seat.

The Punalur seat was taken from the Joseph faction in the last assembly elections as per an agreement within the UDF.

Jose K Mani faction has already discussed the possibility of fielding Prof Sajo Kandakudi or Binu Issac Raju from the Kuttanad seat.

Pala bypoll review

The delegates at the Charalkunnu camp will also discuss the reasons behind the failure of the party candidate in the Pala bye-elections late last year. The Kerala Congress candidate had lost to Mani C Kappen of the NCP in the bypoll which was necessitated by the death of K M Mani who had won the seat in 12 consecutive elections from 1967.

The plan is to blame the stand taken by the Joseph faction during the candidate selection process, campaigning and allotment of symbol for the failure in Pala. As Joseph did not allow the rival faction to contest on Two Leaves symbol from Pala, the candidate was allotted 'Pineapple' as poll symbol.