Kottayam (Kerala): The rift in Kerala Congress-Mani, a part of the Congress-led UDF, widened as a close aide of disgruntled party leader P.J. Joseph on Wednesday filed his nomination for the Pala Assembly bypoll on September 23, even after the party had announced its candidate.
The by-election was necessitated by death, in April, of Kerala Congress-Mani founder K.M. Mani, who represented the constituency since 1967.
Wednesday was the last day of filing of nominations.
Kerala Congress-Mani is the third biggest party in the United Democratic Front and affairs have been troubled since the death of its founder Mani, with a power struggle on between veteran party legislator Joseph and Mani's son Jose K.Mani, as both want to be the party Chairman.
Reacting to Joseph's aide Joseph Kandathil filing his nominations, Jose K. Mani told the media here that everything was finalised with the top UDF leadership clearing the name of Jose Tom Pulikunnel as the party candidate and "we do not know what has happened now".
"From what has happened now, it's a clear breach of the talks that the UDF leadership had with all when the candidate was officially selected and was announced. The UDF leadership will now take the call on what has happened now," he said.
With Joseph also clearing the name of Pulikunnel in the meeting early this week, he had also demanded that if the party symbol (two leaves) had to be used by Pulikunnel, then Jose K. Mani would have to officially write to him, but that never happened and it was just minutes before the end of the time for nominations, Kandathil filed his papers.
"Please don't ask me the reason why I filed my nomination. In a day or two, the exact reason will be known to all on why I filed my nomination. What I can tell you is I have filed my nomination as an Independent candidate and am neither a rebel nor a dummy candidate," Kandathil said after filing his nomination.
But Joseph later told the media that this was a tactical move by his local party leaders, as at present there is a dispute on the party symbol and Jose K. Mani had given a letter to stake claim for that.
"Legal experts advised the local leaders, close to us, that this should be done. What I can assure all is that once the scrutiny of nominations is over, Kandathil would withdraw his nomination," he said.