With Jose K Mani faction crossing over to the ruling Left Democratic Front, the PJ Joseph led faction has staked a claim on all seats that the united Kerala Congress (M) contested in 2016 Assembly polls.
The veteran Kerala Congress leader has pointed out that the seats in which Jose K Mani faction fielded candidates should naturally come to them in the wake of the recent developments. "We deserve to contest the same number of seats," he said.
At the meeting of UDF leadership the other day Joseph insisted that Kerala Congress seats be retained and that his party would place any demand for new seats. However, the party is ready to exchange seats taking into consideration the victory possibilities.
Apart from Assembly polls, the Joseph group has also informed the UDF leadership that the party would contest all seats contested by Kerala Congress in 2015 local bodies’ poll.
He said most Kerala Congress leaders had deserted Jose K Mani since he took the decision to join LDF. Only Roshy Augustine who speaks just lies is with him now, Joseph alleged.
Referring to the Pala bypoll in which Jose K Mani's candidate Tom Jose received a drubbing, Joseph said the party had initially recommended the name of KM Mani's daughter Sally for the by-election considering the winnability factor. However, it was Jose K Mani who said no one from his family should be fielded. We were ready to allot the party's two leaves symbol to anyone who demanded it. However, the symbol was not granted as there was no demand from their side for the same, he said.
It may be recalled that at the election convention of Tom Jose, Jose K Mani had declared that his candidate did not require the party symbol as KM Mani's face itself was the symbol. Many in the party believe that the decision not to contest on party symbol proved costly for the candidate leading to the victory of Mani C Kappan of LDF after Mani's 50-year reign in the Pala constituency.
No move to weaken P J Joseph faction asserts UDF Convener M M Hassan
UDF convenor M M Hassan has said that the UDF would not resort to any action that would weaken the P J Joseph faction of Kerala Congress. Replying to questions of media persons, Hassan while replying to questions from media persons on whether the Joseph faction would receive the same consideration that was given to Jose K Mani's faction. He disclosed that issues related to local bodies’ polls were discussed with Joseph the other day.
Hassan declined to respond to the criticism made by K Muraleedharan MP regarding Jose K Mani factions decision to quit UDF. The Vadakara MP had pointed out that there were lapses on the part of UDF leadership in keeping Jose Faction with the front.
Meanwhile, the UDF leadership is not quite happy with the P J Joseph faction for staking claim to Assembly seats soon after Jose K Mani's exit from the front.
The UDF leadership is of the view that at the time when the front was discussing the outcome of Jose K Mani faction's decision to join LDF and examining its impact, raking up issues like seat-sharing for Assembly polls by Joseph faction was not only untimely but unwarranted at this stage. After the last UDF high power committee meeting, the state Congress leadership had held separate talks with Joseph to discuss these issues. The meeting also evaluated the tactics and strategy to be adopted in central Kerala for the ensuing local bodies poll.
The two parties also discussed measures to be taken to ensure that Jose faction's exit from the UDF does not cause much damage to the front in central Kerala.
The Congress leadership has asked Joseph to lead from the front as the face of Kerala Congress in UDF in the wake of Jose K Mani's party which claims K M Mani's legacy deciding to join the rival LDF. The strategy to pluck out key leaders from the Jose faction was also discussed at the meeting. The Congress leaders also assured Joseph that his party would be given due consideration in local bodies and assembly polls.
Soon after the meeting, Joseph staked claim to all seats contested by Kerala Congress in the previous Assembly and local bodies’ seat. The demand was outrightly rejected by Congress.
The Kottayam district congress leadership meeting will be held on Sunday to discuss the new political situation. The Congress leadership is planning to involve former chief minister Oommen Chandy more effectively in central Kerala politics.
Pinarayi - Kappan to discuss Pala
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and NCP leader Mani C Kappan are scheduled to hold discussions in connection with the handing over of Pala Assembly constituency to Jose K Mani faction which crossed over to the LDF recently.
The discussion between the two leaders is expected to be held either on Tuesday or Wednesday. The meeting is taking place ahead of the LDF state committee meeting scheduled for October 21.
The state leadership of NCP which met on Friday decided not to part with Pala seat. The party decision will be conveyed to the LDF leadership on October 21.
Meanwhile, a section of CPM leadership continued their efforts to persuade Kappan to let go Pala seat. A middleman from Kottayam district who is said to be close to Kappan is leading the discussions with the CPM. In return for giving up Pala, the CPM is prepared to offer Kappan Rajya Sabha seat to be vacated by Jose K Mani or allot one of these seats; Poonjar, Kottayam, Perambra, Irikkur. However, NCP is not ready to leave Pala and contest from any other assembly constituency.
Kappan discussed the issue with NCP national president Sharad Pawar in Mumbai recently.
All eyes are now set on the meeting between Pinarayi and Kappan. Sorting out Pala is crucial for LDF to make political gains in central Kerala following the entry of Joes K Mani.