Kappan rules out NCP return, but rumours rife on his cabinet entry

Mani C Kappan, AK Saseendran
Mani C Kappan, AK Saseendran

Kottayam: AK Saseendran's days in the Pinarayi Vijayan ministry are likely numbered if his former Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) colleague Mani C Kappan makes a comeback.

However, Kappan has ruled out a return to the NCP and vowed to remain with the opposition bloc United Democratic Front (LDF), but rumours of a comeback and replacement of Saseendran are flying thick and fast in political circles.

Kappan had quit the ruling political alliance Left Democratic Front (LDF) almost a year ago just ahead of the Assembly polls.

Reports say Kappan, the Pala legislator, has been offered a cabinet berth after replacing Saseendran, the lone NCP minister in the State.

"It is true that I had met NCP chief Sharad Pawar. But there was no talk on my return to NCP or LDF. I have conveyed to him a few issues in the UDF. I will remain with the UDF," Kappan stated on Tuesday

Saseendran's fate?

Is the NCP national leadership in favour of Kappan's return? Would it mind sacrificing the veteran politician Saseendran to accommodate the resourceful Kappan?

Saseendran's position has never been stable either due to his own follies or due to factional pressures in the NCP.

In March 2017 Saseendran had to quit as Kerala transport minister from the first Pinarayi Vijayan government over allegations of sleaze talk on phone with an unidentified woman. Later he was re-inducted, but had to face lobbying from the rival NCP faction.

Always firmly with the Left

Saseendran has been representing the Elathur constituency in Kozhikode district in the Assembly for three consecutive terms. A member of the NCP national working committee, the 76-year-old has been a Member of the Legislative Assembly after winning elections in 1980, 1982, 2006, 2011, 2016 and 2021.

He made his entry into politics through the Kerala Students’ Union, the students’ wing of the Congress, and went on to become the state president of the Youth Congress. He was part of the Congress faction led by A K Antony which crossed over to the Left camp in 1980.

In 1981, when the split-away faction returned to the Congress fold withdrawing support to the E K Nayanar ministry, Saseendran remained firmly in the Left front.

He has been in the Left camp for about four decades, and the ministerial post offered to him when the LDF returned to power in 2016 was seen as a reward for his unflinching loyalty.

He made his debut in the Assembly in 1980 after being elected from the erstwhile Peringalam Assembly constituency as an LDF candidate. He was one of the six MLAs who vehemently opposed Antony’s decision to withdraw support to the coalition government headed by Nayanar in 1981.

In 1982, he won from the erstwhile Edakkad Assembly constituency on a Congress (S) ticket. However, he suffered back-to-back losses from the Kannur constituency in 1987 and 1991.

In 2001, when Sharad Pawar broke away from the Congress and formed the NCP, Congress (S) merged with the latter.

The days ahead will tell whether Saseendran would have to sacrifice his position for a former party colleague.

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