'Two Leaves' for Jose faction of KC(M), HC rejects P J Joseph plea challenging EC's order

Kochi/Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala High Court on Friday approved the Election Commission's decision to allocate the the Kerala Congress (M)'s official symbol of "two leaves" to the faction led by Jose K Mani for the three-phased local body polls due next month.

The high court rejected an appeal filed by P J Joseph, the veteran leader heading another faction of the party, challenging the Central Election Commission's order that recognised the Jose K Mani faction as the official Kerala Congress (M).

"The conclusions of the Commission cannot be said to be perverse and it cannot be said that no reasonable person can arrive at such conclusions. The Court cannot, in exercise of the jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, interfere with the said finding of fact," the court said.

In a majority verdict, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora and Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra had held that the Jose K Mani faction was the Kerala Congress (Mani) and entitled to use its name and its reserved symbol Two Leaves" for the purposes of the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968.

The dispute in the party arose between vice- chairman Jose and working chairman Joseph following the death of party chairman K M Mani last year.

The high court order comes as a huge boost for the Jose K Mani faction which recently became a part of the ruling CPM-led Left Democratic Front in Kerala.

The faction joined the Left front after severing its three-decades-old ties with the opposition Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF).

The Jose faction's issues with the UDF leadership aggravated in June this year after it was "ousted" from the Congress-led Front in connection with the tussle over the Kottayam district panchayat chief post.

Ever since, the faction led by Jose, a Rajya Sabha MP and son of late party supremo K M Mani, and the other one headed by MLA and former minister, P J Joseph, had both claimed ownership of the symbol.

The matter reached the poll panel late last year.