Today's Paper

Whip to MLAs takes JD(S) closer to split

C. Gouridasan Nair

Delegation seeks steps to end attacks on offices, workers

JD(S) chief holds talks with Chandy, Aryadan

Rebel MLAs say they will stand by ruling LDF

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Janata Dal (Secular) in Kerala appeared to be headed for a split with the party issuing a whip to its MLAs asking them not to take up Ministerial posts in the Left Democratic Front (LDF) Cabinet and two MLAs making it clear that they would rather defy the directive than toe the ‘pro-Congress line’ of the party State leadership.

In the whip issued on Thursday, JD(S) chief whip M.K. Premnath asked the MLAs to stand by the political line adopted by the party after the LDF leadership denied it the Kozhikode Lok Sabha seat, now represented in the Lower House by party State president M.P. Veerendrakumar, and not to entertain any offer of Cabinet berth from the LDF leadership as the party had not taken any decision on rejoining the Cabinet. Failure to comply with the whip would invite serious action, the MLAs have been told.

The JD(S) legislature party is divided with three MLAs standing by the party leadership, which has declared a war against the LDF leadership, and the remaining two adopting a pro-LDF line. The JD(S) had campaigned actively against the LDF across the State and particularly in Kozhikode, Vadakara, Palakkad and Alathur Lok Sabha constituencies in the just-concluded Lok Sabha elections in retaliation for the denial of the Kozhikode seat to the party. However, the two rebel MLAs, including former Transport Minister Mathew T. Thomas, had participated in the LDF’s campaign on the plea that there was no formal decision by the party to sever ties with the LDF. The MLAs who have declared their loyalty to the JD(S) State leadership are Mr. Premnath, K.P. Mohanan and Mr. Veerendrakumar’s son M.V. Sreyams Kumar.

Letter given

Highly placed sources in the government told The Hindu on Thursday that the JD(S) leadership had already written to Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan informing him about the party’s decision not to rejoin his Cabinet. The whip, going by this account, is a follow-up measure to ensure that the CPI(M) leadership does not succeed in its reported bid to accept the dissident MLAs and their supporters as the official group of the party and induct one of them into the Cabinet. Mr. Mathew T. Thomas had made it clear on Wednesday that he would defy any whip that forced him to leave the LDF and eventually move over to the UDF. The other MLA, Jose Thettayil, too has taken a similar position and is reported to have told a news channel that the whip appeared motivated more by Mr. Veerendrakumar’s personal interests than political reasons.

The whip was issued on Thursday after a JD(S) delegation, led by Mr. Veerendrakumar, called on the Chief Minister urging him to initiate steps to end the attacks on JD(S) workers and offices in different parts of the State. A memorandum submitted to the Chief Minister by the delegation listed several such instances and said that as many as nine JD(S) offices and scores of party workers had come under attack after the polling day. Later, Mr. Veerendrakumar told reporters that democracy was in peril in the State. He refused to respond to questions about the party’s next choice for Minister.

The JD(S) chief later held discussions with Leader of the Opposition Oommen Chandy and senior Congress leader Aryadan Mohammed at the MLAs’ Hostel. The two sides are reported to have decided to have broader talks on the possible entry of the JD(S) into the Opposition UDF after the Lok Sabha poll results are out on May 16.

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