Pawar willing to let NCP unit in Kerala to switch alliance

Pawar willing to let NCP unit in Kerala to switch alliance
A K Saseendran, Sharad Pawar and Mani C Kappan

Kottayam: A decision on the Nationalist Congress Party's move to quit the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) in Kerala and join the opposition front is delayed even as its national president Sharad Pawar has reportedly agreed to it after initial hesitancy.

Latest reports say the party leadership's announcement in this regard is unlikely soon as NCP minister A K Saseendran has been summoned to Delhi urgently, though its Pala legislator Mani C Kappan is pressing on for a decisive action before Sunday.

NCP state president T P Peethambaran and Mani C Kappan, MLA, are camping in Delhi for talks with Pawar. Though, Saseendran was not initially invited, he has now been called to join.

Pawar is awaiting the return of associate Praful Patel from Doha on Friday. Until a few days ago he had advised the Kerala unit to stay on with the LDF, however, on Thursday Peethambaran and Kappan persuaded him about reviewing ties with the LDF on account of unfair or poor allocation of constituencies to contest during the civic polls and a likely similar move for the upcoming assembly election.

Kappan, Peethambaran convince Pawar?

Kappan told Pawar that he would leave the LDF if it was unwilling to give him the Pala seat and instead contest the assembly elections as part of the United Democratic Front (UDF), sources say.

Peethambaran also told Pawar that the LDF was constantly ignoring the NCP in the state and that its Kerala leaders and activists were not interested in remaining as a part of the Left alliance. Both told Pawar that an association with the UDF would be more gainful.

During the initial stages of the talks, Pawar was against the idea of the NCP breaking away from the LDF in Kerala.

The party will be able to win two seats (Elathur and Kuttanad) if it remains with the LDF, but only Kappan’s victory will be assured if it allies with the UDF, he reportedly reasoned.

But both Kappan and Peethambaran countered that if they side with the UDF, there will be a better chance of winning more seats. Pawar then said if joining the UDF was a good thing for the party then so be it.

Pawar also said that a meeting of the party's national executive committee would be summoned to take an official decision.

Kappan in a hurry

Kappan said the decision should not be delayed and that the UDF leaders had issued an ultimatum saying it should be made known by Sunday. He has made elaborate preparations so that he could join the UDF on Sunday as a rally led by opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala enters Kottayam.

Kappan has decided to contest from Pala as part of the UDF even if Pawar decides to give up the constituency and continue with the LDF. Kappan went to Delhi to seek Pawar's approval for his decision to contest from Pala.

The UDF has reportedly assured that it was ready to accommodate the entire state unit of NCP if it came out of ruling LDF or even the splinter group led by Kappan.

Saseendran, sole hitch

Saseendran, who is the party's sole representative in the Pinarayi Vijayan ministry, is unwilling for a drastic political move at this juncture as the state election is approaching. He has been dependent on the CPM for his back-to-back victories from the Elathur constituency in the last two assembly polls. Elathur is a stronghold of the Left front, particularly the CPM. A section of the CPM wants it to take over the seat from the NCP owing to its poor base in the state.

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