Ahead of the crucial Chengannur bye-election, Kerala Congress (Mani) chief KM Mani on Friday tried to drive a wedge between the ruling Left allies, saying the CPI wants the CPI(M) candidate to lose in the May 28 polls.
The unexpected demise of sitting CPI(M) legislator KK Ramachandran Nair in January 2016, has led to the bye-election, the date of which was announced late on Thursday.
As the result could have a huge bearing on the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Chengannur is a must win for Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, as he completes two years in office.
Mani's party has six legislators, and has a reasonable support base of around 5,000 votes and each vote counts.
All the three rival fronts -- the Congress-led United Democratic Front, the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Communist Party of India-Marxist-led Left, have met Mani and sought his party's support for the upcoming polls.
The only exception being the Communist Party of India, whose state secretary Kanam Rajendran, has made it very clear that Mani's vote was not needed, nor was the Left looking for a new ally.
Asked about how his party members would vote in the May 28 polls, Mani said: "He (Rajendran) is trying to kill two birds with one stone.
"As he has nothing to lose in the Chengannur bye-poll, and it is the CPI(M) candidate trying to retain the seat, Rajendran wants the CPI(M) candidate to lose."
"Very soon our party will meet and decide on what needs to be done in Chengannur," he added.
Ever since Mani broke away from the Congress-led-UDF in 2016, the CPI(M) which leads the Left ruling coalition has been extending an olive branch to Mani, but Rajendran has been against it.
His adamant stand has not gone down well with the CPI(M).
CPI(M) state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan told the media on Friday that no ally of the Left could make such a statement. Such decisions are taken only by the Left Democratic Front.
"Rajendran cannot make such a statement as no ally can take such decisions. We want the vote of all in Chengannur to defeat both the Congress and the BJP," said Balakrishnan.
CPI(M) candidate Saji Cheriyan said: "I certainly want all votes, including that of Mani's party."
Chengannur for close to three decades was a Congress citadel, until Nair broke it in 2016.
In the 2016 assembly polls, Nair secured 52,880 votes while sitting two-time Congress legislator PC Vishnunath got 44,987 votes; BJP's P. Sreedharan Pillai came a close third with 42,682 votes.