Girish Menon

Thiruvananthapuram: The Congress and the Kerala Congress(M) have decided to meet in Kochi on Monday to reduce tension that has cropped up between them consequent on the latter's decision to go ahead with the merger move with the Kerala Congress (Joseph).

Leader of the Opposition Oommen Chandy, Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president Ramesh Chennithala, United Democratic Front (UDF) convener P.P. Thankachan and Kerala Congress(M) leader K.M. Mani will attend the meeting.

On Friday, Mr. Chennithala announced the meeting in Doha and Mr. Mani confirmed it in Kottayam.

The meeting is significant as it comes close on the heels of the differences between the Congress and the Kerala Congress(M) since the merger plans were announced.

The merger is a fait accompli, but the hard positions that the leaders of the either party have taken in the past few days has caused concern among their well-wishers. According to reports, some of the Church leaders have been putting pressure on the leaders to take steps to ensure that their relations do not deteriorate further.

The leaders expressed optimism about an amicable resolution to the row, which had made it difficult to even convene a meeting of the UDF. The meeting is taking place in the backdrop of the uncompromising stands that the Congress and the Kerala Congress(M) have taken.

The Congress holds the view that the people will not accept the inclusion of Mr. Joseph in the UDF after being part of the Left Democratic Front for many years, while the Kerala Congress(M) holds the view that the merger is its internal affair.