THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Kerala Congress (Mani) has split again after Jose K. Mani was elected chairman of the party at an alternative state committee meeting held at Kottayam on Sunday.
Even though Oppos-ition leader Ramesh Chennithala, KPCC president Mullapally Ramachandran and Muslim League leader P.K. Kunhalikutty tried their level best to prevent the split, 325 members of the State committee wanted Jose K. Mani as the party chairman.
Sometime earlier, former party chairman K.M. Mani had quipped, “We are a party that splits as we grow and grows as we split” while referring to the frequent divisions the party had witnessed over the last five decades of its existence. So, the latest split had not created many ripples, but the UDF is definitely worried as they have always sided P.J. Joseph
Jose K. Mani faction has sent a letter to Election Commission informing about the election of a new party chairman. It was KC (M) leader K.A. Antony who has given the letter to Election Commission. The hurriedly held KC (M) State committee meeting at CSI Retreat Centre, Kottayam has reportedly seen 325 of them choosing Jose. K. Mani. The total strength of the state committee is 437. Apart from Jose K. Mani, who is a Rajya Sabha MP, the newly MP elect Thomas Chazhikadan and two MLAs, Roshy Augustine and Prof. N. Jayaraj attended Sunday’s State committee meeting.
Veteran leaders like C.F. Thomas MLA and Joy Abraham, former Rajya Sabha MP, stayed away from the meeting expressing their displeasure in anointing Jose K. Mani as the successor of the late K.M. Mani.
C.F. Thomas told reporters in Kottayam that he will stay put with the faction which will be approved by the Election Commission. In his brief speech after taking over the new role, Jose K. Mani said that KC (M) will continue working for the farmers and the “toiling class”.
“This is not the time to make a detailed speech which I will delve on later. Mani Sir is with us in the path ahead. I will never ditch the party.I am reiterating that KC (M) will work united. The remaining issues will be discussed and amicably settled,” said Jose K. Mani.
He also rubbished the statement of P.J. Joseph that it is not the state committee which elected Jose K. Mani, but it is his fans association. Eight district presidents also attended the meet, claimed the Jose K Mani faction. But now all eyes will be on whether the two factions will sit apart in the Legislative Assembly on Monday. A KC (M) general secretary who shows allegiance to Jose K. Mani told this newspaper that P. J. Joseph will sit in the same chair allotted to him by the Speaker of the Assembly in his role as the acting chairman.
“We have already given the letter to Election Commission stating that Jose K. Mani has been elected as the KC (M) chairman. On Sunday, only the chairman has been elected. The remaining posts have not been accommodated which will be done eventually. We have more strength as we have two MLAs and two MPs,” said a KC (M) general secretary.
The date of the parliamentary party meeting has not been decided so far. The steering committee and high power committee has got 111 and 29 members respectively, where the Jose K. Mani faction claim that they have got majority over the Joseph faction. Jose K. Mani was in no mood to relent despite the Congress leader’s pressure as he feels that only the party chairman post would make him supreme in the party. Congress sources told DC that if not for the UDF leadership's intervention, Jose K. Mani would not have got the Rajya Sabha seat as he stepped down from the Kottayam Lok Sabha seat to take over it. It should be recalled that Joseph faction was peeved with K. M. Mani for ensuring his son’s smooth transition from the role of a Lok Sabha MP to Rajya Sabha MP.