Thiruvananthapuram

Congress leaders hold out an olive branch to Jose K. Mani

Jose K. Mani

Jose K. Mani  

KC(M) faction leader non-committal on forsaking the Opposition alliance.

At least two top leaders in the Congress have held out an olive branch to embattled Kerala Congress (M) factional leader Jose K Mani who faced the prospect of ouster from the United Democratic Front (UDF).

Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala told reporters in Kollam that Mr. Mani would find the doors of the alliance open if the group vacated the presidentship of the District Panchayat, Kottayam, in favour of a nominee of the side led by party chairman P. J. Joseph as per an agreement brokered by the UDF leadership.

Former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said the UDF had not closed the door on Mr. Mani. “It is not a closed chapter”, he said. The factions in the KC(M) were locked in a feud over the presidentship of a District Panchayat with barely three months left for the local body elections. They should introspect whether they should take the quarrel further, Mr. Chandy said.

 

The attempt to de-escalate the situation came against the backdrop of reports that at least two KC(M) legislators and an MP purportedly close to Mr. Mani had argued against any move to gravitate towards the Left Democratic Front (LDF).

They reportedly felt that any sign of a political drift towards the ruling front could alienate Mr. Mani's traditional support base and trigger defections. Mr. Mani’s faction was already facing defections from the group in Kottayam.

Mani hints at accomodation

Mr. Mani appeared to hint after a meeting of the party’s steering committee in Kottayam that he was willing for some measure of accommodation.

When pressed whether he would forsake the UDF, Mr. Mani said he would take the “appropriate decision at the appropriate time”.

He struck a non-committal tone when asked whether his faction would vacate the presidentship of the local body in favour of Mr. Joseph’s group. Mr. Mani said the decision to disinvite him from the UDF meeting on Wednesday was an insult to the political legacy of his father K. M. Mani, one of the founding members of the alliance. He aired a litany of complaints against Mr. Joseph. He said the KC (M) had offered Mr. Joseph political refuge from the Left Democratic Front (LDF) and paid the price for the decision.

 

Mr. Mani has said his faction of the KC (M) would initiate preparations for the next panchayat elections from July 10. It entails ward and panchayat level meetings.

UDF concern

The move has caused a measure of concern in the UDF. Some of its leaders appeared worried that an aggrieved Mr. Mani could nudge votes in favour of the LDF by striking a ward-level tactical alliance with the ruling front in the local body elections due in mid-October.

A senior leader pointed out that KC(M) under the stewardship of K. M. Mani had for a short duration moved away from the UDF and sat as an independent block in the Assembly. He said Mr. Mani might temporarily distance himself from the coalition but was unlikely to crossover to the Left in haste.

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Printable version | Jul 6, 2020 9:10:44 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Thiruvananthapuram/congress-leaders-hold-out-an-olive-branch-to-mani/article31952606.ece

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