Jose K Mani formally inducted into LDF; NCP wants clarity on Pala Assembly seat

LDF includes KC(M) Jose K Mani group as its constituent
Jose K Mani and Roshy Augustine MLA. Photo: Rijo Joseph

The Jose K Mani faction of the Kerala Congress (Mani) has been officially inducted into the Left Democratic Front (LDF).

Jose K Mani's entry was formalised during the LDF meeting held in Thiruvananthapuram on Thursday. "This is a historic decision that would speed up the destruction of the UDF," the Left Front's Convenor A Vijayaraghavan told the media after the meeting.

Though Vijayaraghavan said the decision was unanimous, sources said that Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Loktantrik Janata Dal (LJD) did raise some concerns.

The NCP's apprehension, understandably, was about the Pala Assembly seat, which its Mani C Kappan had wrested for the LDF from the half-a-century-old grip of the KC(M). Jose K Mani quit the Rajya Sabha seat last week, which he had won with the UDF support.

It is learnt that Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan himself assured the NCP, during the meeting, that the KC(M) had set no conditions for its entry.

Vijayaraghavan, too, said the KC(M) had placed "no conditions whatsoever". “Their arrival is not based on any conditions, but on policies,” he said.

He sought a short-term reprieve from internal wrangling by saying that seat sharing talks related to the Assembly elections would be held only a month before the election. The LJD, too, was anxious about its place in the LDF when a larger party like the KC(M) stakes its claim for seats.

For now, Vijayaraghavan said discussions were on to create an understanding at the local level for a stellar LDF victory in the panchayat elections.

The LDF convenor also hinted that the arrival of KC(M) would expand the sway of the LDF over the Christian community, traditionally considered a pro-UDF bloc. "With the KC(M) abandoning the UDF, those behind that party too will realise the opportunistic politics played by the UDF," Vijayaraghavan said.

The LDF has also been attempting to shove under the carpet questions of political morality by defining the inclusion of KC(M) as the political need of the hour, as a tactical master-stroke. "This decision will obliterate the UDF. Those interested in the weakening of the UDF will welcome this move," Vijayaraghavan said.

Though the LDF is still not willing to publicly give K M Mani a clean chit, any question of LDF hypocrisy is countered by heaping all the blame of the bar bribery scam on the UDF leaders. The LDF has evidently endorsed Jose K Mani's stand that the scam was a conspiracy hatched by some UDF leaders.

For the LDF, it is now as if Mani was just a scapegoat, a martyr.

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