Will Jose K Mani faction back Pinarayi? UDF's no-confidence motion triggers political question

Will Jose K Mani faction back Pinarayi? UDF's no-confidence motion triggers political question
Kerala Congress (M) leader Jose K Mani and Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala. File photo

The verdict is already out on the no-confidence motion scheduled to be moved by the opposition UDF against the Pinarayi Vijayan-led LDF government in Kerala on July 27. With only 43 members opposed to the 91 on treasury benches, the motion is sure to fail. However, the procedure will throw spotlight on two MLAs as political Kerala is awaiting what stance the Kerala Congress (Mani)'s Jose K Mani faction would take on the floor when the voting takes place.

The unexpected no-confidence motion comes at a time when speculations are rife about the party's future plans, including a possible tie-up with the Left front.

Talks in this regard had taken a break following the gold smuggling row which, to a great extend, turned the political narrative against the ruling dispensation.

The party has now been forced to take a stance in the House and it has found itself in a quandary as its position during the voting would be seen as a clear sign of its allegiance.

The Jose K Mani faction, expelled from the UDF last month following a bitter tussle with the P J Joseph faction, has two MLAs on their side – N Jayaraj of Kanjirappally constituency and Roshy Augustine of Idukki.

Whether they vote in favour or against the motion, there will be little to assume about the stance. If they take the third available option of staying away from the procedure, it is likely to be seen supporting the government and an attempt to cosy up to the CPM-led ruling front.

Whip threat

Taking a stance will not be an easy task for the party not only due to political reasons but also legal challenges.

There is still no clarity on the whip to be issued by the UDF and the Kerala Congress (M).

Both the P J Joseph faction and Jose K Mani faction are exploring legal nuances to make their side safe.

Mons Joseph, who belongs to the Joseph faction, is the official whip of the KC(M) in the assembly.

The faction is of the view that the MLAs belonging to the other faction would be legally bound to abide by the whip issued by Mons as they are still officially a part of the outfit.

The Jose K Mani faction's stance is that they should be treated as an independent entity outside both UDF and LDF. A case is before the election commission over the claims of the party's official electoral symbol – Two Leaves.

The Jose K Mani faction has approached legal experts to bring in clarity about the whip rules. Violation of whip could lead to disqualification as a legislator.

"They are likely to stay neutral and it would mean an indirect support to the government. However, staying neutral would also amount to violation of the party whip. In that case, even if the P J Joseph faction seeks action against the MLAs, the Speaker may not initiate any citing the case pending before the election commission," a Congress leader told Onmanorama.

No decision yet

Jayaraj, MLA, told Onmanorama that no decision has been taken on the stance to be taken during the voting. "Our legislative party has not met to discuss the issue. We have enough time to take a call," he said.

Roshy said a decision will be taken considering all aspects, including political situations.

Stand on smuggling

The Jose K Mani faction has taken a careful stand on the gold smuggling row which has cast a shadow of suspicion over the chief minister's office.

Jose K Mani has not pointed fingers at the government or the chief minister though he has demanded a comprehensive probe into the issue.

It is clear that the faction does not want to hinder the possibilities of talks with the ruling front even with a careless statement.

Doubt over session

However, it is not clear whether the Assembly session will happen in the wake of increasing number of COVID-19 cases in Thiruvananthapuram. A decision is expected on Wednesday.

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