'Will give up Pala claim if Sharad Pawar asks': Mani C Kappan hints at truce, respite for LDF

'Will give up Pala claim if Sharad Pawar asks': Mani C Kappan hints at truce, respite for LDF
NCP leader Mani C Kappan

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Mani C Kappan has given indications that he will give up his claims for Pala constituency in the upcoming Kerala Assembly election.

In an unexpected development, Kappan said on Thursday that he would not contest from Pala if NCP national president Sharad Pawar asked him to vacate the seat. "Sharad Pawar is my leader. I will abide by his decision," he told reporters in Kottayam.

The reason for his sudden turnaround is unknown.

Nonetheless, his decision will definitely give the Left Democrratic Front (LDF), in which NCP is a constituent, a huge respite.

Kappan had won the seat for LDF in the Assembly by-election in 2019. (He had defeated Jose Tom Pulikkunnel by 2,943 votes in the by election in September 2019.)

Pala had been a Kerala Congress (Mani faction) bastion for five decades till Kappan's upset victory. It was represented by former finance minister K M Mani, who was part of the United Democratic Front till then.

However, political equations changed after Mani's death. His son, Jose K Mani, who is leading the faction now, switched his allegiance to the Left Democratic Front recently. Subsequently, he staked claim for the Pala seat. This resulted in strong opposition from Kappan.

The LDF was in favour of allotting the seat to Jose K Mani.

Kappan raised a banner of revolt and threatened to join the United Democratic Front. A split looked imminent in the Kerala unit of the NCP.

Several rounds of reconciliatory talks followed in the presence of NCP's national leaders, but Kappan stood firm on his demand.

Kappan appeared to have mended ways after his meeting with Sharad Pawar in Mumbai on Wednesday.

'Am I a fool to contest on UDF ticket'

Kappan, who reportedly held many rounds of talks with the UDF leaders, was in complete denial mode when reporters pressed for his reaction on the possibility of contesting on UDF ticket.

"Am I a fool to contest on a UDF ticket?" he retorted.  

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