The decision of Kerala Congress (Mani), KC(M), to align with the Left Democratic Front (LDF) has dealt a heavy blow to the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF). The decision by KC(M) leader Jose K Mani faction is being considered as an endorsement of the incumbent LDF government and its politics.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in a statement, said the KC(M) has taken a stand that LDF is a “politically correct” formation, ending its 38-year-old association with the UDF. “Jose’s entry to LDF would strengthen secular and democratic forces in the state. This marks the fall of UDF,” Vijayan said.
Meanwhile, the UDF leadership flayed the move, saying the Jose faction had "backstabbed" the Congress-led front, which made him Rajya Sabha member. UDF convener M M Hassan also said that the Jose faction should quit all parliamentary positions, including the Kottayam Lok Sabha seat won with UDF support. Jose K Mani, however, has quit his Rajya Sabha membership.
Attacking the UDF leadership and a rival Kerala Congress (M) faction led by P J Joseph, Jose accused a section in the Congress-led front which "expelled" his faction from UDF after a dispute over a post in a local body. He said the UDF had “humiliated” the MLAs and leaders who stood by his late father K Mani, who built the UDF 38 years ago. He also alleged that the P J Joseph faction was engaging in character assassination of leaders of his faction.
"The UDF leadership supported Joseph's bid to hijack the Kerala Congress (M). They (UDF leadership) did injustice to us," Jose alleged.
The Jose faction's issues with UDF leadership aggravated in June this year after it was "ousted" from the Congress-led front following a tussle over the Kottayam district panchayat chief’s post. The UDF leadership had later said that the Jose group was not “ousted” from the front but was only “temporarily barred” from the UDF meeting for “refusing to honour an agreement made in public” with the coalition front over sharing the Kottayam district panchayat president's post.
"Technically, the Jose K Mani group is part of the UDF," UDF chairman and Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly Ramesh Chennithala had said in Thiruvananthapuram recently.
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Meanwhile, some senior Congress leaders in the state have criticised UDF’s decision to oust Jose. Senior Congress leader and Member of Parliament K Muraleedharan said there were problems in handling the issues with KC(M). He said Jose should have been retained in UDF. Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee President Mullappalli Ramachandran also backed him.
Announcing his faction's political position at a press conference on Wednesday, Jose expressed hope that the LDF leadership would take a decision on his party's entry into the ruling front. Jose, son of veteran Kerala Congress (M) leader late K M Mani, hailed the Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led LDF’s efforts to safeguard secularism. He also said the LDF government in the state was keen to work towards the welfare of the farming community, which was the core base of his party.
On Friday, Jose K Mani met senior leaders of CPI(M) and CPI. KC(M) is the second party to leave the UDF after LDF came to power. Earlier, the Loktantrik Janata Dal (LJD) had left UDF in protest its “anti-people attitude and joined LDF. With KC (M) too leaving the front, the UDF has effectively become a Congress-League front.
Read More: Changing Equations Within Congress-led United Democratic Front in Kerala
(With inputs from PTI)