A day after the Congress-led United Democratic Front invited Kerala Congress(M) chairman K M Mani to return to the state Cabinet, the former state finance minister on Sunday dropped plans to meet BJP president Amit Shah next week.
The regional Christian party leader was forced to resign from the Cabinet in November last year after the High Court upheld the Thrissur Vigilance Court’s decision to conduct further probe into an allegation that he had taken Rs 1 crore bribe from bar owners to renew liquor licences. Mani has since then been cooling his heels even as “bar tainted’’ Congress minister K Babu was retained in the Cabinet.
Mani was purportedly annoyed over the Congress’s bid to protect Babu even after he put in his papers.
On Friday, he had said that he would be happy to meet Amit Shah during the BJP chief’s visit to Kottayam, scheduled for Thursday. To prevent the BJP ranks swelling, the UDF held out an olive branch in its meeting on Saturday, asking Mani to rejoin the Cabinet. Mani is yet to reply in the affirmative and is seen as bidding his time.
Mani’s son and MP from Kottayam Jose K Mani on Sunday said although the former minister had expressed his intention to meet Shah, the party has not discussed the issue. “As of now, there won’t be any meeting with the BJP leader,’’ he added.
Kerala Congress(M) has always been on the BJP’s radar, as the saffron party, eager to perform well in the Assembly polls this year, goes about aggressively wooing the Christian community in the state.
In recent weeks, BJP state president Kummanam Rajasekharan had met several bishops during his ongoing political tour, ‘Kerala Liberation Yatra’.
Sources in the state BJP said Shah is likely to meet some bishops during his time in Kottayam. Rajasekharan would tour the district the same day, although details are yet to be finalised, the sources said.