The Election Commission has started its hearing on the claims made by two factions of the Kerala Congress (Mani) to decide which represents the original party, poll panel sources said here on Tuesday.
The full commission -- Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora, and Election Commissioners Ashok Lavasa and Sushil Chandra -- began the hearing on Monday.
Representatives from the factions led by Kerala Rajya Sabha member and son of KC (M) founder Jose K Mani and former Kerala Minister and party working Chariman P J Joseph were present during the hearing.
After hearing both the parties, the full Commission adjourned the matter to January 20, the sources said.
Both the factions are claiming that they represent the original KC (M) after the death of party founder K M Mani, in April, 2019.
Jose Mani had petitioned the EC that he was heading the real party and he should be allowed to use its two leaves symbol and flag.
Majority of KC (M) office-bearers, state committee members (total 437), MPs (two) and MLAs (five) were with him and he was elected as the party chairman in June 2019, Jose Mani claimed.
He should be declared as heading the official KC (M), he pleaded to EC.
However Joseph, who is the KC (M) MLA of Thodupuzha, denied Jose Mani's claim.
He had said that on November 1, 2019, a sub-court in Kattappana of Idukki district had upheld a lower court's order restraining Jose Mani from officiating and discharging any function as KC (M) chairman.
The Munsif court had earlier issued an injunction order preventing Jose Mani from officiating as KC (M) chairman.
Joseph said the court had dismissed Jose Mani's plea observing there was no need to intervene in the matter at this stage. Jose Mani has no position in the party as he did not agree with its constitution, he said.
The court has accepted P J Joseph's position as the party's working chairman and as per its constitution he could handle the role of the chairman since the demise of party chairman K M Mani.
The feud between the two factions escalated to such a level that in last year's bypoll to the Pala Assembly seat, represented by K M Mani since 1965, the KC (M) candidate lost to LDF nominee as he was not allocated the party's symbol. Pala is in Kottayam district.
The KC (M) is the third largest partner of the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF). The Congress tried to bring peace between the two factions but could not succeed.
After K M Mani's death, Jose Mani anointed himself as the new chairman antagonising P J Joseph.