Deepening Crisis In Kerala Congress (M): Patch-up Bid by UDF

Thiruvananthapuram: The crisis bedeviling the Kerala Congress (M), an important constituent of the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF), has deepened with both the factions refusing to craft a compromise.

The bone of contention between the two factions led by senior KC(M) leader P J Joseph and Jose K Mani, son of KC (M) founder, late K M Mani, is the Kottayam district panchayat president’s post. The post is at present held by a loyalist of the Jose faction. The Joseph faction wants him to quit the post, but the Jose faction has said a firm No.

The crisis has deepened with Joseph refusing to agree to the compromise formula mooted by Jose.  The refusal of the rival factions to budge from their respective positions has ratcheted up tension in the UDF camp. A patch-up attempted by senior Congress leaders Oommen Chandy and Ramesh Chennithala has failed to achieve a breakthrough so far.

What is causing sleepless nights to the Congress leadership is the tough stance taken by Joseph. The acting chairman of the KC (M) has warned of unpleasant decisions if the Congress fails to make Jose change his position.

The uncompromising stand taken by Joseph has to be viewed against the ‘offer’ made by CPI (M) State secretary, Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, to the KC (M).  Any party from the UDF is welcome to join the Left Democratic Front (LDF). The only condition is that it should quit the UDF on the basis of divergences on policy. The tough stand of Joseph is being attributed to the overture from Kodiyeri.

With the spectre of a split in the KC (M) looming large, the Congress leadership is at its wit’s end on how to solve the problem. The crisis is set to reach the flash point with the Joseph faction planning to move a no-confidence motion against Sebastian Kulathungal, the Jose faction loyalist who is the president of the Kottayam district panchayat at present. The motion will succeed only if the Congress members in the district panchayat support it. The big question is: will the Congress leadership oblige Joseph? The party is damned if it backs the no-trust motion; and damned if it does not.

A split in the KC (M) is a luxury the UDF cannot afford at this juncture, with the local bodies elections scheduled to be held in October this year. The KC (M) is a force to reckon with in central Kerala. And, further weakening of the party might have a bearing on the chances of the Congress-led UDF wresting power from the LDF in the Assembly polls to be held next year. The LDF Government’s term is set to expire in May, 2021.

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