Kerala Congress (Joseph) rebels under the leadership of former MP and party secretary general P.C. Thomas, has ‘expelled’ party chairman P.J. Joseph at a meeting of the ‘State Committee’ held here on Friday for what they termed “gross indiscipline”. The meeting, through the same resolution, elected Mr. Thomas in his place.

The rebels’ move comes in the wake of the scheduled merger of the party with the Kerala Congress (M) only hours before the commencement of a crucial meeting of the party State Committee scheduled by the official leadership.

The resolution passed by voice vote noted that for the past 20 years the party had continued as a responsible member of the Left Democratic Front (LDF) and had shared power whenever the coalition had come to power. No new developments have emerged in the near past which had necessitated a rethink in the affiliation to the coalition. As such the party would continue to be a member of the LDF, the resolution noted.

Gross indiscipline

According to it, in recent times, certain persons in responsible positions in the party had initiated a dialogue with the leadership of Kerala Congress (M) with the sole intension of safeguarding their personal interests. Since such an act from a responsible functionary of the party reflected gross indiscipline, the meeting decided to remove Mr. Joseph from the chairmanship of the party.

Earlier, inaugurating the meeting, Mr. Thomas said those who were bent on joining the Kerala Congress (M) would not be able to make any dent in the strength of the party. “They would not be able to take away the party symbol, the official name, its ideology or its political stance,” he said, making it clear that the party would stand firmly with the LDF.

According to him, he had joined the KC (Joseph) influenced by the slogan of ‘reunification’ of the Kerala Congress factions. In fact many loyalists from other factions had also joined the party at the time. In spite of the controversies courted by the chairman, the party could take up various programmes. However, for the past one year or so, the party had fallen into a long interlude of inaction.

Mr. Thomas alleged that a coterie surrounding Mr. Joseph, were responsible for the current merger efforts which were going on for the past nine months. According to him, the ‘merger drama’ was being enacted to ensure seats for some of the sitting MLAs.

Putting an end to the suspense surrounding him, V. Surendran Pillai, MLA and party vice president, addressed the rebel gathering and said Mr. Joseph had the responsibility to come out clean on what had changed in the LDF since the last budget session when the party had stood firmly behind the LDF, which had necessitated the sudden change in political stance.

In his introductory remarks, party general secretary George Sebastian crticised Mr. Joseph for his alleged breach of assurances given to Mr. Thomas when the latter joined the party after disbanding his Indian Federal Democratic Party (IFD).

The meeting at Kottayam Public Library Hall was attended by a crowd of more than 200 persons, mostly former IFDP activists. Except the Kottayam district president of the party (also former IFDP member), none of the district chiefs were present. Also absent were State chiefs of feeder organisations. The activists later took out a march and paid homage at the statue of P.T. Chacko.