With the Lok Sabha elections only weeks away, two allies of the Congress-led UDF -- Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) and Kerala Congress (Mani) -- are seeking an extra seat each to contest. Kerala has 20 Lok Sabha seats and the Congress traditionally contests in 16 seats, the IUML- in two and the Kerala Congress (M) and Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) in one each. In 2014, the Congress won eight seats and its allies their share.
Speaking to the media on Tuesday, KM Mani, Chairman of the Kerala Congress (Mani), replied in the affirmative when asked if his party was going to seek an extra seat to contest. "Kottayam is already our seat and we will ask for one more seat. It could be Idukki, Chalakudy or Thrissur," said Mani.
The Kottayam seat was held by Mani's son Jose K Mani. But last year, as part of a patch-up formula to bring back Mani into the UDF, the Congress leadership, much to the chagrin of many UDF allies, handed out a vacant Rajya Sabha seat to Mani.
Mani, who has been a legislator for the past 50 years, immediately took the seat and asked his son to resign from the Lok Sabha and file the Rajya Sabha nomination.
Mani's party consists of the erstwhile Kerala Congress (Joseph) faction, led by PJ Joseph, who was an ally of the Left Democratic Front (LDF) and a State Minister in the VS Achuthanandan Cabinet till he merged his party with the Kerala Congress (Mani).
With Mani raising the demand for an extra seat, the IUML has also expressed a desire for one more seat: Wayanad or Badagara.
IUML General Secretary KPA Majeed told the media on Tuesday that they will raise this issue at the appropriate meeting of the UDF.
The IUML contests the Malappuram and Ponani Lok Sabha seats, both in Malappuram district. "IUML certainly deserves more seats to contest in the Lok Sabha," said PK Firoz, who heads the party's Youth Wing.