The infighting in the Kerala Congress-Mani, a part of the Congress-led UDF, was complete when on Saturday its candidate decided to contest as an Independent with the symbol 'pineapple' and not the party's traditional 'two leaves' from their most prestigious seat Pala.
The by-election will take place on September 23. It was necessitated by the death of Kerala Congress-Mani founder K. M. Mani in April, who represented the constituency since 1967.
The Kerala Congress-Mani is the third biggest party in the United Democratic Front and has been facing trouble since the death of Mani, with a power struggle between veteran party legislator P J Joseph and Mani's son Jose K. Mani for the post of party Chairman.
The tussle between the two saw Joseph putting his foot down and as the working chairman, refused to budge when it came to candidate selection. Jose K. Mani took the call and named his closest aide Jose Tom Pulikunnel as the candidate.
With Joseph refusing to issue a letter nominating Pulikunnel as the party candidate, he had to file his papers as an independent candidate, which was accepted.
This means that the traditional 'two leaves' symbol was not allotted to Pulikunnel who had to settle for the 'pineapple' symbol as an independent candidate.
Reacting to it, Pulikunnel said it was a non-issue as the "pineapple is sweet and that's enough,".
The UDF chairman and Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala said that there are issues within their party, expressing the hope that they would be resolved soon.
"It does not matter about the symbol, the writing on the wall is very clear, the UDF candidate will have an easy victory. Just look what happened, when the election campaign of the CPI-M was held early this week, the notable absentee was Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. He knows that there is no need to waste his time in campaigning, as the winner is known to all, " said Chennithala.
Opposing Pulikunnel from the Left is local NCP leader and film producer Mani C. Kappen, contesting for the fourth consecutive term while the BJP-led NDA's candidate is Kottayam district BJP president N. Hari.