After a brief lull, another dispute has cropped up in the Kerala Congress (M) with party working chairman P.J. Joseph asserting his right to issue a whip to the party legislators in case of election to the Rajya Sabha seat.

Talking to media persons here on Saturday, Mr. Joseph said a contest to the seat was most unlikely but the UDF would soon take a decision on its candidate to the seat. “Rajya Sabha seats are usually decided without elections. But if such a situation arises, whip will be issued to the party legislators,” he said.

The whip, according to Mr. Joseph, would be applicable in case of a no-confidence motion in the Assembly.

The statement by Mr. Joseph comes even as confusion reigns over the political position of the rival group led by Jose K. Mani after its exclusion from UDF meetings. According to its leaders, the party is yet to decide on whether to align with any coalition or not and will come out with a decision at an appropriate time.

At the same time, they sought to dismiss the claims by Mr. Joseph to issue whip to their legislators as Roshy Augustine had already been appointed as its Assmebly Chief Whip. “The Election Commission of India (ECI) has categorically stated that status quo be maintained in case of a split within the political parties,” said N. Jayaraj, MLA and a Mani group leader.

In November last, the Mani group had approached the Assembly Speaker seeking to dismiss any claims by Mr. Joseph and his faction for the parliamentary party leader or the parliamentary party whip as these appointments were unlawful and hence void.

Alleging that Mr. Augustine was arbitrarily replaced as the party whip solely for proclaiming his allegiance to Mr. Mani, it had also urged the Speaker to maintain status quo until the ECI pronounced a final order on the dispute regarding the party symbol `Two Leaves’.

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