Jose K Mani-led Kerala Congress (M) faction parts ways with UDF ahead of State Assembly polls

Kerala Congress (M)
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With the state Assembly polls round the corner, the ruling LDF in Kerala on Wednesday got a shot in the arm as Kerala Congress(M) faction led by Jose K Mani decided to severe its decades old ties with the Congress-led UDF and work with the CPI(M)-led front in the state.

Party leader Jose K Mani also said he would quit his Rajya Sabha membership, won with the support of the UDF. Announcing his faction's political position at a press conference here, Jose expressed hope that the LDF leadership will take a decision on his party's entry into the ruling front.

Jose, son of veteran Kerala Congress (M) leader late K M Mani, hailed the CPI(M)-led front's efforts to safeguard the secularism in the country.

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He also said the LDF government in the state was keen to work towards the welfare of the farming community, which is the core base of his party. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and leadership of the LDF were quick to welcome Jose faction's decision to cooperate with the front.

In a statement, Vijayan said the KC(M) has taken a stand that LDF is the politically correct formation, ending its 38- year-old association with the UDF.

The matters related to the party's LDF entry will be decided at the front's meeting, he said.

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Meanwhile, the UDF leadership flayed the move, saying Jose faction "backstabbed" the Congress-led front, which made him Rajya Sabha member. UDF convenor M M Hassan also said the Jose faction should quit all the parliamentary positions including Kottayam Lok Sabha seat won with the support of the Congress-led front. Justifying his decision to work with the LDF, he said the front has been relentlessly fighting against the growing communal forces in the country.

Attacking the UDF leadership and a rival Kerala Congress (M) faction led by P J Joseph, Jose said a section in the Congress-led front "expelled" his faction from the UDF after a dispute arose over a post in a local body.

The UDF humiliated the MLAs and leaders who stood by his late father K Mani, who built the UDF 38 years ago, he said.

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He also alleged that P J Joseph faction engaged in character assassination of the leaders of his faction. "The UDF leadership supported Joseph's bid to hijack the Kerala Congress (M). They (UDF leadership) did injustice to us," Jose alleged. Jose faction's issues with the UDF leadership aggravated in June this year after it was "ousted" from the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) in connection with the tussle over the Kottayam district panchayat chief post.

The UDF leadership had later rectified it saying the Jose group was not ousted from the front and it was only temporarily barred from the UDF meeting for refusing to honour an agreement made in public with the coalition front over sharing the Kottayam district panchayat president's post.

"Technically Jose K Mani group is part of the UDF," UDF chairman and Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly Ramesh Chennithala had said in Thiruvananthapuram recently.

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