Kerala Congress (Mani) may break into two parties soon

Jose K. Mani and PJ Joseph

Thiruvananthapuram: There is a rift in the Kerala Congress (Mani) -- the biggest ally in the Congress-led UDF. Two different entities are being headed by P.J. Joseph and Jose K. Mani which are expected to turn into two parties soon.

Affairs have been fluid in the party since the death of its founder K.M. Mani in April this year. There is a struggle for power between Joseph and K.M. Mani's son Jose K. Mani.

Two legislators Roshy Augustine and N. Jayaraj, both attached to Jose's faction, told IANS that as things stand now, the possibility of realignment is remote.

"Now the two factions of the party have formed their own committees at all levels. Moreover, the leaders who are with Joseph owe their political growth to Mani Sir. It's sad for all, the way things have now panned out. We will wait," said Augustine, who was also considered a close aide of senior Mani.

K.M. Mani remained the Chairman of the Kerala Congress (Mani) from the time he founded it in 1976 till his death.

In 2010, Joseph had pulled out of the Left Democratic Front government in Kerala, and merged his Kerala Congress (Joseph) with the Kerala Congress (Mani).

Since then the two top guns Mani and Joseph moved forward without any issues. The first signs of a break-up appeared when Mani decided to name his candidate to the lone Lok Sabha seat, early this year.

Though Joseph protested initially, he maintained silence after the death of the senior Mani.

Everything was fine before Jose's faction decided to appoint him the new party chairman in June.

Thereafter, a slugfest began between the two factions. Things went out of control when it came to select a candidate for the by-election for the Pala Assembly seat that fell vacant after the senior Mani's death.

The junior Mani nominated Josh Tom for the seat but he lost in the by-poll due to differences in the party. Before that K.M. Mani won the seat in every election since 1965.

But the situation turned worse for Jose earlier this month when the court refused to accept his election as the chief of the Kerala Congress (Mani).

Joseph is the working chairman of the party and he has control over the party symbol-- two leaves. Besides, he has two legislators -- C.F. Thomas and Mons Joseph -- in his favour. He is also the leader of the party in the Assembly.

"May be for the time being Joseph might be having an edge, but the time is not that far, when things will turn in favour of Jose. After all he is the son of Mani Sir," added Augustine.

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