Updated: February 11, 2021 4:05:40 pm
The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), a partner in the ruling LDF in Kerala, seemed headed for a vertical split over the question of Pala Assembly constituency in Kottayam district.
NCP leader Mani C Kappan, who won Pala in a bye-election in 2019 as part of the LDF, wants the seat to be allotted to his party once again in the upcoming Assembly elections. However, the CPI(M), which heads the LDF, has reportedly conveyed to the NCP central leadership that it cannot do so. The CPI(M) intends to allot the seat to the new entrant in the coalition, the Kerala Congress (M) headed by Jose K Mani. Jose’s father, late KM Mani, had represented Pala uninterrupted from 1967 till 2019. Incidentally, Kappan had defeated Jose’s party, when it was part of the UDF, in the 2019 bye-election.
“It’s a matter of our credibility. We were allotted 4 seats last time out of which we won three. It was after the bye-election win in Pala that the LDF got recharged in the state. Is it fair that a seat is taken away from the winning party last time and allotted to the losing party? CPM has not followed coalition decency,” Kappan told reporters in Delhi where he held meetings with NCP supremo Sharad Pawar and general secretary Praful Patel.
Kappan is learnt to be pressurising the NCP central leadership to leave the LDF and cross over to the Congress-led UDF. The Congress has already indicated that Kappan was welcome to contest in Pala, provided he campaigns on the Congress symbol.
However, a section of the NCP led by AK Saseendran, a minister in the Pinarayi Vijayan government, is not keen on leaving the LDF. If the NCP central leadership agrees to leave the LDF, Saseendran might stay on, thereby splitting the party. It’s not clear whether Kappan or Saseendran wields more influence among the NCP organisation in the state.
In the 2016 Assembly elections, the NCP was allotted four seats — Elathur, Kottakkal, Pala and Kuttanad — out of which it won Elathur and Kuttanad. Later in the 2019 bye-election, the NCP won Pala through Kappan as well.
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