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    Knives out in K.M. Mani's party

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    Thiruvananthapuram: On expected lines, trouble has broken out in Kerala Congress (Mani), the third biggest ally of the Congress-led United Democratic Front.

    Veteran politician and Kerala Congress-Mani Chairman K.M. Mani passed away last month and since then the party leadership has been divided with a section aligned with party working chairman P.J. Joseph and the other led by Mani's son Jose K. Mani, a Rajya Sabha member.

    On Wednesday, the Organisational Secretary of the party, Joy Abraham, wrote a letter to Chief Election Officer Teeka Ram Meena stating that Joseph has been elected as party chief.

    But some party members have expressed their dissent on the decision.

    Party legislator Roshy Augustine told the media that Abraham has violated the party's discipline.

    "As per the by-laws of the party, a Chairman is elected by the state committee of the party but no such meeting has taken place, hence such a letter makes no sense," said Augustine.

    Earlier, Mani was the undisputed leader of the Kerala Congress (Mani) since its formation.

    Mani held dual posts -- Chairman of the party and parliamentary party leader -- in the state Assembly.

    The Kerala Assembly session opened on Monday. As per the norms, if the parliamentary leader of the party remains absent due to any reason then the deputy leader of Assembly takes over the responsibilities. Hence, in the absence of Mani, Joseph took his seat in the front row of the opposition benches.

    Now, the leaders close to Jose K. Mani are not in a mood to allow Joseph to take over the post of party chairman.

    As soon as the supporters of Jose K. Mani came to know that Abraham has submitted a letter to the CEO, they expressed their anger by burning Abraham's effigy in Kottayam's Pala, which is also the home town of Mani.

    "Recently a faction of the Communist Marxist Party merged with that of the CPI-M," a legislator close to Jose K. Mani told IANS requesting anonymity.

    "But no one asked that faction to replace their present Secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan," said the legislator.

    In 2010, Joseph merged his party with that of Mani's and of the five legislators in the party today, three owe their allegiance to Jose K. Mani, while apart from Joseph, the other legislator is Mons K. Joseph, who has all along been the closest aide of Joseph.

    To counter Abraham's letter to the CEO, the Mani faction has now written to the Election Commission stating that their new party chairman is yet to be decided.

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