'Joseph has no party, just a crowd of people': Jose K Mani derides merger with PC Thomas' outfit

'Joseph has no party, just a crowd of people': Jose K Mani derides merger with PC Thomas' outfit
P J Joseph and Jose K Mani. File photo

The various Kerala Congress groupings in the state are in a sort of flux. Kerala Congress (Mani), the influential party among them had recently joined the Left Democratic Front (LDF), and two splinter groups, those of PJ Joseph and PC Thomas, decided to merge the other day.

The new entity will now be known as just "Kerala Congress" as was this regional outfit known in its initial days until half a century ago.

How far this will help the duo politically cannot be predicted, but Jose K Mani who heads the Kerala Congress (Mani) party derides the merger as of little value but termed it as an attempt to cosy up to the BJP.

P C Thomas was so far associated with the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA). Ahead of the merger the other day, Thomas parted ways with the NDA.

Today, P J Joseph who once had his own party called the Kerala Congress (Joseph) happens to be in the merged outfit known as the Kerala Congress.

The original Kerala Congress was formed by a few Congress leaders based in central Kerala in 1964 as the then prominent leader P T Chacko was sidelined in the national party.

PC Thomas is the son of P T Chacko. The legal right over the name 'Kerala Congress' is vested with him. The leaders of several Kerala Congress outfits active in the state politics with surname affixes of their respective leaders have always aspired for this appellation.

Here Jose K Mani expresses his views on the impact of the merger in an interview to Malayala Manorama.

P J Joseph and P C Thomas have come together again and a Kerala Congress without a surname affix in brackets is in place. What will be the impact of this move in the Assembly polls?

This is not a merger, but is an opportunistic adjustment. P J Joseph's is not a party. It doesn't have a registration. It's just a crowd of people.

How will the Kerala Congress (M) face the challenges posed by the merger of two entities belonging to P J Joseph and P C Thomas?

P J Joseph has joined a party that is part of the NDA. This move is to build a bridge with the BJP, and that is a part of the UDF agenda. The people will realise the politics that spurs P J Joseph, who is with the UDF, to join a party that was an NDA constituent. Joseph should clarify if he is toeing the NDA's stand.

The merger took place a few days ahead of the polls. Did you expect such a move?

Is this a political move? Joseph neither has a party nor a poll symbol to contest in the elections. His desperation to overcome this dilemma has forced him to merge with the P C Thomas' party. He is unlikely to get a common symbol since the date for submitting an application has expired.

Whose is the real Kerala Congress?

It's up to the people to decide which the real one is. Various courts, the Election Commission and voters in the local body polls have chosen us as the real Kerala Congress. We draw our strength from these facts.

Can't P J Joseph now claim that the son of P T Chacko, the son* of (Kerala Congress founder chairman) K M George and a Kerala Congress without an affix are with him?

People know that we are upholding the stand and political ideology of the Kerala Congress and that is more important.

*K M George's son K Francis George sided with the P J Joseph faction last year.

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