As the Congress-led UDF on Tuesday decided to field a nominee of P J Joseph faction of Kerala Congress (M) for the upcoming bypolls to Kuttanad Assembly seat, the stage seems set for the CPI(M) to join hands with Joseph’s rival in the party, Jose K Mani.
Following the death of Kerala Congress (M) supremo K M Mani last year, the party has seen a power struggle between his son Jose, a Rajya Sabha MP, and senior party leader Joseph, a state MLA.
The CPI(M) has since been trying to woo the splinter group of the regional Christian party, expecting to make electoral gains from districts such as Kottayam and Idukki, where KC(M) has influence. Several CPI(M) leaders have publicly stated that the Jose faction’s support would help LDF in the ensuing civic polls, as well as the Assembly elections next year.
Jose got an upper hand in the battle over the legacy of late K M Mani last week when the Election Commission passed a majority order awarding the disputed ‘two leaves’ party symbol to his faction.
With Congress announcing Joseph faction nominee Jacob Abraham’s candidature for the bypolls, party leader Ramesh Chennithala said, “UDF has not ousted Jose faction; that faction has taken a stand against UDF. They violated the UDF whip in recent Rajya Sabha polls. We have no plan for any further discussion with Jose. They have adopted a stand betraying UDF.” He said Jose should relinquish his Rajya Sabha membership, which he won as a UDF nominee.
Jose said there is no question of stepping down as an MP. “There is a conspiracy to annihilate Kerala Congress (M), which has not betrayed the UDF. The Congress, in fact, has betrayed our party,” he said.
Senior CPI(M) leader and LDF convener A Vijayaraghavan said, “The LDF would give an appropriate slot for the Jose faction. We will discuss his entry into the front.”
KC(M) has six MLAs and a Lok Sabha member. The Jose faction has support of only two MLAs.