With the Supreme Court upholding the Kerala High Court’s confirmation of an Election Commission order allotting the title and election symbol of the Kerala Congress (M) to the faction led by Jose K. Mani, the rival group led by P.J. Joseph appears to have come under immense pressure ahead of the coming Assembly election.
According to sources, the Joseph group has now become a collective of politicians without a valid registration by the Election Commission of India and this, in turn, will force the candidates fielded by it to contest as Independents under different election symbols.
“Its candidates will not be able to submit nominations with endorsement from the party and, hence, are not entitled to the same election symbol. The group may now request the support of any smaller outfit to stake claim for a uniform symbol, but it is a risky option,” they said.
Despite the setback, the faction, however, remains confident of resolving the issue in a couple of days though it is yet to reveal the plan of action. “There will be no trouble as far as the UDF is concerned as we have already taken steps to ensure the same symbol for all our 10 candidates,” said a senior leader with the Joseph faction.
Meanwhile, none of the ten candidates to be fielded by the Joseph group has submitted their papers as they are apparently awaiting a solution to tide over the crisis.
During the local body elections last year, the candidates fielded by the party had contested under the election symbol of ‘drum’.
As the Kerala High Court had earlier stayed the Election Commission’s order in favour of Mr. Mani in November 2020, the State Election Commission allotted special symbols for both factions in the local body polls. But with the High Court revoking the stay later, the SEC reallocated the name and reserved symbol of the KC(M) to the faction led by Mr. Mani.
The possession of ‘two leaves’, a party symbol supposed to have an emotional connect with voters of central Travancore, assumes significance as the Assembly election also involves a direct confrontation between the Mani and Joseph groups in four seats.