Denial of seat for Joseph raises possibility of split in party
The Kerala Congress (M) on Monday announced Thomas Chazhikkadan as its candidate to the Kottayam Lok Sabha seat.
In a terse one-line statement issued late on Monday, party chairman K.M. Mani announced that Mr. Chazhikkadan, a member of the KC(M) high-power committee, would contest from Kottayam as the United Democratic Front candidate.
The candidature of Mr. Chazhikkadan came a day after party working chairman P.J. Joseph had officially expressed his willingness to contest. The announcement also set off a storm of anxiety among the party circles about a possible split in the party.
After the parliamentary party and steering committee meetings here on Sunday, the Joseph faction had been confident of receiving the nomination and had even launched a campaign through the social media. It, however, proved short-lived with the Mani faction toughening its stance.
The latest turn of events in the long-drawn saga began to unfold on Monday morning when Sunny Thekkedam, president of the KC(M) Kottayam district unit, coming out against nominating Mr. Joseph as the party candidate. “The sentiments of the party workers in Kottayam are against Mr. Joseph and this will be conveyed officially to the party chairman,” he told mediapersons in Pala, ahead of his meeting with the party supremo.
This came amidst reports that the Mani group leaders were apprising the party chairman of the importance of fielding a candidate acceptable to them in Kottayam.
Cong. support for Joseph
Meanwhile, there were also reports of the Congress backing the candidature of Mr. Joseph. Roshy Augustine, MLA, however, later denied any such intervention.
Sources pointed out that a decision to nominate any leader other than Mr. Jospeh would also require the party chairman to convince the Congress, which is favourably disposed towards Mr. Joseph, about the winnability of the person.
The announcement of Mr. Chazhikkadan on Monday evening preceded a meeting of the Joseph-faction leaders at the party vice-chairman’s residence in Thodupuzha.