Kerala witnessed high political drama on Sunday as Mani C Kappen, the MLA representing the Pala assembly constituency, left the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) and joined the opposition United Democratic Front (UDF).
Kappen parted ways with the Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and announced the formation of his new party, NCP-Kerala. Kappen, along with a few leaders, resigned from the NCP before joining the UDF. Kappen's entry into the UDF had all the elements of a political drama as he drove to the venue of Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala's pan-Kerala Aishwarya Kerala Yathra in an open jeep accompanied by hundreds of supporters as the rally reached Pala. Kappen was welcomed to the Congress-led front by Chennithala and other veteran leaders Oommen Chandy, P J Joseph and P K Kunhalikutty among others.
The meeting happened to be the informal launch of Kappen's campaigning for the upcoming assembly polls in Kerala. Leaders of the opposition front have made it clear that Kappen would contest the polls from Pala as the UDF candidate. Kappen won the 2019 bypoll from Pala defeating UDF's Jose Tom. He emerged victorious in his fourth bid after failing to Kerala Congress (M) patriarch K M Mani in three consecutive elections. The KC(M) faction led by Mani's son Jose K Mani joined the LDF ahead of the recent local body polls. Reports said that the LDF has agreed to allot the Pala seat to Jose K Mani in the upcoming polls.
Kappens entry into the UDF was the culmination of months-long deliberations and speculations as to the future of his political career and the NCP's stance.
Kappen thanks Pinarayi
Even as he severed ties with the CPM-led LDF, Kappen thanked the front for working for his victory in the last election. He also thanked Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan for facilitating the development projects he has initiated in the constituency.
However, he made a serious allegation that Jose K Mani and CPM Kottayam district secretary were delaying the development projects in Pala recently as they did not want the credit to go to Kappen.
He said the LDF will not retain power in the state.
Speaking to media on Sunday morning, Kappen said that the NCP national
leadership still stands with the Left front.
Kappen will not quit as MLA. However, those who have left the party with him will give up their positions within the party as well as the roles they were given by the government in corporations and boards.