Ending weeks of uncertainty over the political position of the Kerala Congress (M) faction led by Jose K. Mani, the party here on Wednesday announced its decision to align with the Left Democratic Front (LDF).
Announcing the decision after an emergency parliamentary party meeting held here in the morning, Mr. Mani also declared that he would step down as the Rajya Sabha member. Barring a few months of association at the Kottayam District Panchayat in 2017, the party’s decision to join the LDF marks a major shift in its political course after four decades.
Elaborating on the decision to join the LDF, Mr. Mani asserted that the switching of sides was unconditional. At the same time, the assembly seat of Pala would always remain ‘the most intimate in his heart’ as far as the party was concerned.
“What we have declared now is the party’s decision and this has come as unconditional. The discussions with the LDF will kick off from now onwards and our association with the LDF is going to change the political landscape of Kerala forever,” Mr. Mani replied, to a query on the terms of his alignment with the left parties.
On the occasion, he also launched a scathing attack on the Congress and UDF (United Democratic Front) for its alleged betrayal of the party founder by K.M. Mani, also regarded as a founder of the UDF. “A few within the Congress unleashed a personal attack on me and extended support to P.J. Joseph for hijacking the KC(M). As a party founded on the principles laid down by K.M. Mani, we could not stand this for long and hence decided to leave the UDF,” Mr. Mani added.
Regarding the decision to step down as the Rajya Sabha member, Mr. Mani said the decision was in line with the principles of political morality. The move, however, has come as a surprise to many as the regional party had never responded to a demand by the UDF chairman and senior Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala asking Mr. Mani to step down as MP had he intended to switch sides.
Responding to Mr. Mani’s decision, P.J. Joseph, leader of the rival KC(M) faction, said Mr. Mani was joining hands with the group that had hunted down his father. He said, “Mr. Mani left the UDF on his own by raising false allegations and now he looks to join those who prevented his father from presenting the state budget. Worse still, he is joining them without any understanding over the Pala and Kanjirappally seats.”