Kerala

Kerala Assembly polls | Joseph faction merges with Kerala Congress

Into the UDF fold: Kerala Congress leader P.C. Thomas attending an election convention of the United Democratic Front at Kaduthuruthy on Wednesday along with Mons Joseph and Congress leader Oommen Chandy.  

In yet another major realignment of forces within the Kerala Congress platform, the Kerala Congress faction led by P.J. Joseph has merged with the Kerala Congress led by P.C. Thomas.

Mr. Thomas had on Wednesday announced his party’s decision to pull out of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) to join the United Democratic Front (UDF). Following the merger, Mr. Joseph has been appointed chairman of the party and Mr. Thomas will serve as its working chairman.

ECI intimated

Official sources said Mr. Thomas had already sent a letter to the Election Commission of India (ECI) intimating the changes in the party hierarchy and seeking ‘bicycle’ as its election symbol. Mons Joseph, a close aide of Mr. Joseph, is expected to become the vice chairman during the organisational revamp, scheduled after the Assembly elections.

According to Mr. Thomas, the decision to leave the NDA was taken at a late-night meeting on Tuesday. A formal announcement of the merger, however, was made at an election convention of the UDF in Kaduthuruthy on Wednesday evening.

“We have been forced to leave the NDA as the BJP did not offer a single seat to the party this time,” Mr. Thomas told media persons. According to him, the BJP leaders had insisted on him contesting from Pala though he was unable to take it up due to personal reasons.

The party led by Mr. Thomas, which had been with the NDA since 2004, contested in four seats in the previous Assembly elections.

Mr. Thomas had represented the Muvattupuzha Lok Sabha constituency for six terms from 1989.

Symbol

Meanwhile, the latest move enables the Joseph faction, which recently lost the legal battle for the title and election symbol of the Kerala Congress (M) to the faction led by Jose K. Mani, to contest under the same election symbol. The party, an ally of the UDF, is contesting in 10 seats this time and in the absence of a valid registration by the Election Commission of India, its candidate would have been forced to contest as Independents under different election symbols.

The merger is expected to change the dynamics of the Kerala Congress within the UDF as the party has inducted a handful of veteran leaders ever since the KC(M) underwent a vertical split post the death of K.M. Mani.

The UDF, on its part, counts on the presence of Mr. Thomas, also a member of the dominant Christian community, helping the coalition to woo the voters of Central Travancore who are disenchanted with Mr. Mani.

Earlier last year, Mr. Thomas had held a few rounds of discussions with the UDF prior to the local body elections. The move, however, was dropped after the BJP led coalition assured him representation in a few corporations and boards.


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Printable version | Nov 27, 2021 9:07:55 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/joseph-faction-merges-with-kerala-congress/article34093691.ece

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