Kerala

Cong. extends an olive branch to Mani

KC(M) faction leader undecided on forsaking Opposition alliance

At least two top leaders of 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 said Mr. Mani would find the doors of the alliance open if the group vacated the president’s post of the Kottayam district panchayat 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 president’s post of a the district panchayat with barely three months left for the local body elections. They should introspect whether the quarrel was worth pursuing, Mr. Chandy said.

The attempt to de-escalate the situation came on the eve of the crucial UDF meeting on Wednesday to decide Mr. Mani's future in the alliance.

The 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) appeared to have encouraged the Congress.

The legislators 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 faction was already facing defections from the group in Kottayam).

Mr. Mani has also created some room to manoeuvre by indicating that he would not forsake the UDF immediately. “The party will take an appropriate decision at the appropriate time,” he said in Kottayam.

Mr. Mani indicated that he might temporarily distance himself from the coalition. (The KC(M) under the stewardship of K.M. Mani had sat as a separate block in the Assembly before returning to the UDF fold.)

The UDF reportedly felt that it has not helped Mr. Mani that the ruling front was sending mixed signals. Some CPI(M) leaders were cautious about revealing their mind on the question of accommodating Mr. Mani. But the CPI leadership has stated that the LDF was not in the habit of throwing a lifeline to deserters from other political coalitions. It did not name any particular party.

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Printable version | Jul 6, 2020 11:31:29 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/cong-extends-an-olive-branch-to-mani/article31955722.ece

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