Kottayam: The Kerala Congress (M) and the CPM joined hands to elect KC(M) councillor Zacharias Kuthiravely president of Kottayam district panchayat on Wednesday, dealing a rude jolt to the Congress, KC (M)’s local ally, and dropping an early hint of a formal entry into the LDF by the pro-Catholic party, representing the rubber country.
But the development seemed to shake up the 6-MLA KC (M) as legislator and former minister Mons Joseph said the tie-up with the CPM was not discussed in the party. KC (M) district president E.J. Agasthy resigned in protest.
The KC (M) captured the panchayat by securing 12 votes out of a total 22, polling six of its own and another six of the CPM.
The Congress’ eight councillors voted against, while CPI councillor kept off and the lone vote of Janapaksham of Mr PC George, MLA, was declared invalid. The vacancy was created by the resignation of Congress leader Joshy Philip, who took over as the DCC president.
Congress leader Oommen Chandy termed the KC (M)’s decision to snap its 42-year association with Congress-led coalition as “unfortunate and political betrayal”.
Muslim League leader P K Kunhalikutty said “this should not have happened...needs to heed the Congress sentiment”.
KC (M) quit the UDF after the 2016 Assembly elections, alleging that the Congress had given its chairman K.M. Mani an unfair deal while was facing allegations of corruption. However, KC (M) chairman K M Mani denied any immediate swing to the LDF but former chief minister and
The protest from within the LDF against accommodating the “tainted” Mr Mani was quick. CPM veteran V S Achuthanandan hoped the developments in Kottayam “may not come true”. CPI State secretary Kanam Rajendran said the CPM alone would be responsible for the local tie-up.
Drama preceded the shock vote. Mr Mani kept himself away from the Assembly and was inaccessible on the phone to Congress leaders, who tried to avert a breach of trust on the agreement reached by the two parties, with blessings of Mr Mani’s son, Jose K Mani, MP, on April 3 to elect a Congress man as the president.
Mr Joshy Philip alleged that the KC (M) breached the written assurance to vote for the Congress candidate Sunny Pampady.
CPM leader V.N. Vasavan dismissed the development as “local”. But days ahead will prove whether this is a one-off reprisal to the Congress or lays the pattern of shake-ups in the UDF, sharing power in local self-government institutions.