Mani expecting a positive result from the Centre

The turmoil over the K. Kasturirangan committee report on the Western Ghats has reached a crescendo in the Kerala Congress (M) [KC(M)] with leaders from high range settler farmer pockets in Idukki, Wayanad and parts of Kottayam screaming their loyalty to the settlers who will be affected, if the present Central government posture on the issue is not addressed.

Government Chief Whip P.C. George is keeping his resignation ready; six of the MLAs have expressed their willingness to stand down, and members of party’s working chairman P.J. Joseph’s camp are even ready to quit the United Democratic Front (UDF). “The next 72 hours is crucial for the party,” said one senior leader of the party. ‘‘The Central government decision on the Office Memorandum of November 13, 2013, should either be amended to their liking or be re-notified,” he said.

The message is very clear: if the Central government do not come out with a satisfactory decision, the future of the Congress candidate in Idukki would suffer in the ensuing elections. It also means that such an eventuality would have its backlash from Congressmen on the future of KC(M) candidate Jose K. Mani in neighbouring Kottayam segment. However, those close to Mr. Mani are still confident that the Central government decision would be positive enough to help them wriggle out of the imbroglio. The not so warm response from the hierarchy received by some of the KC(M) leaders who wanted to offer fasting in solidarity with the church-sponsored High Range Samrakshana Samithi is seen as a result of the new equilibrium reached between the Congress leadership and the Catholic church. Moreover, they have also refused to meet the radical elements among KC(M) leaders who sought audience with them. The Mani loyalists also believe that top echelons of the church hierarchy have developed reservations about the way the campaign was being handled by the samithi. If the church came out with a positive reaction to the Central government decision, that would spur the party leaders to come down from the extreme position they have taken, it is believed.

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