Kottayam: Things look like going the discord way once again in Kerala Congress, the party reputed for its frequent break-ups and mergers. Following the demise of its chairman, KM Mani, the party is set to elect a new chairman. PJ Joseph, former minister, and one who was never allowed to grow beyond being a shadow of Mani by Mani's followers, has been nurturing ambitions of taking the top post and ensuring his prominence in the party.
However, those now under late KM Mani's son and party vice chairman Jose K Mani, sprang a surprise by mobilizing eight district unit presidents to meet current deputy leader CF Thomas, to demand that Jose K Mani be made chairman. They also proposed making CF Thomas parliamentary party leader, both put together meaning PJ Joseph will be cut to size.
However, on his part CF Thomas, apparently unhappy with the move is reported to have responded that this is not the way decisions are taken in the party. He also told the leaders that nobody should be party to complicating matters and differences if any should be settled through consensus.
But when asked by mediapersons, CF Thomas replied that he did not have any discussions regarding leadership with the district presidents when they had called on him at his residence.
On the other hand, PJ Joseph denied that the party had any propossals for making Jose K Mani chairman, nor CF Thomas parliamentary party leader. He added that although there may be some overzealous leaders, the party's decisions were not taken by district presidents, but by the state party leadership.
With the two sides hardening their stances, the party is once again in for another round of turmoil. Jose K Mani's faction, armed with a brute majority in the party forums, is out to sideline the Joseph faction. During the Lok Sabha candidate selection, Joseph had made a concerted move to get candidature for himself. But that was put down by Jose K Mani using the tactics of pressure by local leaders.
Joseph has the constant grouse that he and others have to work under the hegemony of Jose K Mani, who is a much junior leader, and it can no longer be allowed. Of the five MLA's of Kerala Congress(M), three are with the Mani faction. The plan and wish of PJ Joseph is to extricate CF Thomas from them, especially in the backdrop of Thomas having given him support for Kottayam candidature.
Thomas had taken a public stance that all decisions should be taken through mutual discussions and consensus. Whether his strategy is serious and will work or the party is heading for another split, remains to be seen in the coming days.