Ending weeks of speculation and amid signs of a rift within the party, the Kerala Congress (M) has finally picked Thomas Chazhikkadan as its Lok Sabha candidate for the Kottayam seat. Chazhikkadan is a former legislator of Ettumanur constituency and a General Secretary of the KC (M).
The consensus was reached after weeks of deliberations as the party working chairman PJ Joseph had been adamant to contest in the Lok Sabha elections.
KC (M) is a constituent of the Congress-led United Democratic Front. The party's allocation of seat is one for the Lok Sabha elections. And Kottayam is the traditional constituency contested by the KC (M).
The dispute over the candidature this time had been started and triggered by the Joseph faction of the party. The crisis lasted for weeks, posing a challenge to the party Chairman KM Mani. The decision on candidature otherwise was taken unilaterally by Mani, whose supremacy in the party is considered unchallenged.
The decision to field Chazhikkadan was taken on Monday night, which was followed by a formal announcement by Mani. It is learnt that Jospeh's claim for the seat was defended by Mani with opposition from the party local committees.
According to reports, Joseph had convened a meeting of his faction in Thodupuzha, the headquarters of Idukki district, on Monday night.
With the denial of the seat, Josephâ€™s next move is being keenly watched by the UDF and some even foresee a split in the party. The UDF and the Congress in particular, is sceptical of the winning possibility from Kottayam as the feud in the party has been made public. Joseph is most likely to declare his next move to the Congress leaders.
Meanwhile, CPI (M) State Secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan has said that it is for Joseph to decide on whether to continue in KC (M).
Joseph, however, has not yet reacted publicly on it. In 2014, Maniâ€™s son Jose K Mani had won the seat. Jose K Mani was nominated to the Rajya Sabha in 2018. Since Maniâ€™s faction got the RS seat, Joseph faction had begun making the claim for the Los Sabha seat.
Kerala Congress (J), the political party of Joseph, merged with KC (M) in 2010; it was an ally of the CPI (M)-led Left Democratic Front before the merger.