UDF ousts Jose K Mani’s faction of Kerala Congress (M)

The tussle between the party’s two factions leb by Jose K Mani and senior leader PJ Joseph, is over the post of president of the Kottayam District Panchayat.
Kerala Congress (M) faction led by Jose K Mani
Kerala Congress (M) faction led by Jose K Mani
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In a major political development in Kerala, the Congress led United Democratic Front on Monday ousted the Jose K Mani faction of Kerala Congress (M) party. The faction led by Jose K Mani, son of KM Mani, the late veteran leader and founder of Kerala Congress (M), was ousted on grounds that the group did not abide by the agreement made by the UDF.

The tussle between the party’s two factions leb by Jose K Mani and senior leader PJ Joseph over the post of president of the Kottayam District Panchayat, is what has now escalated into the ousting of the Jose K Mani faction.

The Kottayam district panchayat president at present is Sebastian Kulathunkal who is part of the Jose K Mani faction. The local body which was earlier headed by Congress party, according to the agreement in UDF, was given to Kerala Congress (M) party in July 2019 for the remaining 14 months until the next local body polls. But due to the factional tussle in Kerala Congress (M), UDF decided that the seat will be shared between the two factions. The first eight months will be headed by the Jose K Mani faction, and the remaining six months will be headed by the PJ Joseph faction.

But as the Jose K Mani faction did not give up charge as per the agreement, the issue again became controversial and earlier this month, the UDF had given notice to the Jose K Mani faction, asking them to step down.

UDF convenor Benny Behenan addressing the media on Monday noon said, “The Jose K Mani faction no longer is eligible to continue in the UDF. It has been decided that its members should be made to stay aside from attending UDF meetings.”

Benny Behanan further clarified that the decision was unanimously taken following a meeting convened by UDF leaders.

“There are two things which should be noted here. First, they (Jose K Mani faction) publicly shunned the agreement which the UDF leadership had made; second they said they cannot abide by it,” added Benny Behenan.

Meanwhile, the leaders of the Jose K Mani faction of the party came down heavily criticising the UDF for the move, calling it a political injustice.

Reacting to the UDF decision, Jose K Mani said, “It is like the UDF has ousted Mani Sir (KM Mani) himself. This is a political injustice. This decision was taken for a minor issue like a district panchayat president not resigning from the post. If we are ousted for this, the UDF should have ousted the PJ Joseph faction a thousand times for coming out against the front. Even during election time, PJ Joseph used to come out against the UDF. This is selective dementia,” Jose K Mani lashed out at the UDF in a press held on Monday evening.

With this, questions have started on whether the Jose K Mani faction will be moving to any other fronts in the state.

Reacting to the questions of the media, convenor of the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) A Vijayaraghavan said that it is not yet time to form a political opinion on inviting the faction or not.

“Only the UDF convenor has so far talked on the issue, let reactions come from other party leaders,” he said.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan also reacted to the incident following questions on whether Jose faction will be welcomed to the Left front.

"We have not yet thought about it as of now, but since it is politics, anything could happen".

BJP state president K Surendran said that they will cooperate with whoever “will agree with the stands of the Narendra Modi government.”

Political hiccups are not new to Kerala Congress (M). The rift between the Joseph faction and Jose K Mani faction broke out following the death of KM Mani last April.

It started with the selection of the candidate for Legislative Assembly bye-polls to Pala constituency. Jose K Mani was able to field his candidate, but lost to the LDF.

The tussle became an open tug of war when it came to the decision on who will become the next chairman of Kerala Congress (M). After days of tussle, a section in the party which supports Jose K Mani, ‘elected’ him in July last year as the chairman. But the Joseph faction which wanted PJ Joseph as the chairman approached the court and got a stay on the ‘election’ of Jose as the chairman.

Watch Jose K Mani's reaction:

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