Congress loses its third-largest ally in Kerala with K.M. Mani exit2 min read . Updated: 07 Aug 2016, 11:11 PM IST
The Kerala Congress (Mani) says it will keep an equal distance from all the three political fronts in the stateUDF, LDF and NDA
Bengaluru: The Congress-led opposition alliance United Democratic Front (UDF) in Kerala suffered a major blow on Sunday as its third-largest ally Kerala Congress (Mani) group, or KC(M), decided to sever ties with the front.
Six legislators of the regional outfit, considered to have strong support of minority voters, especially Christians in the central Kerala districts, will not be a part of the UDF anymore and will sit as a separate block in the state assembly, said KC(M) chief K.M. Mani after a two-day meeting of his party’s rank and file, according to regional news channels.
At the panchayat level, the party shall allow the existing relationships with other fronts to continue, Mani told reporters on Sunday.
“In the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, where KC(M) has one member each, we shall consider giving issue-based support to UPA (United Progressive Alliance)," he added.
Congress leader and former chief minister Oommen Chandy said Mani’s decision was “unfortunate", while the second in command and opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala said “Mani will have to face consequences".
Some other Congress leaders such as T.N. Prathapan have put forward the argument that KC(M) MLAs (members of legislative assembly) have to quit as legislators if they are leaving UDF. “They won using our votes too; now they can’t say we don’t want to be with you," Prathapan told reporters.
Mani said he is not planning to get into LDF (Left Democratic Front) or NDA (National Democratic Alliance) immediately, and shall keep an equal distance from all the three fronts.
“We are like a pretty girl in the town. Everyone is interested in us. But we are not joining any front for now. We will stand as an independent party," Mani told reporters.
Mani, who was forced to resign as finance minister during the UDF’s rule following a bribery scandal, was miffed that the front did not stand by him in his hour of crisis.
On Sunday, he mentioned two main reasons for ending the decades-long association with the front: Congress leaders tried to defeat KC(M) candidates in the election, and tried to spread bribe allegations against him.
“We have faced enough insult and humiliation. We are not happy in leaving; it is like a son leaving a family for us. But there is no other way for us," he said.
When reporters asked why he took this decision now, more than two months after the elections are over, he said, “Better late than never."
Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, the secretary of the Kerala unit of Communist Party of India (Marxist), or CPM, an arch rival of Congress, said with the departure of KC(M), the Congress has been politically and organisationally decimated in Kerala.
“KC(M) quitting is just a beginning. Other allies in the front like Janata Dal (United) and RSP (Revolutionary Socialist Party) are planning to quit the front," Balakrishnan told reporters.
The support of KC(M) MLAs was considered crucial to any front hoping to rule the state, as power often fluctuated from one side to another over a few seats in Kerala. For instance, the former UDF government came to power in 2011 with a majority of two votes and KC(M) was the third-largest ally with nine MLAs.
V.M. Sudheeran, Kerala Congress president, said Mani should have shown some political decency as he has left without raising any issues at the UDF’s meeting before or after the elections.
N.K. Premachandran, MP of RSP from Kollam district in Kerala, denied Balakrishnan’s statement. “We are not thinking of quitting UDF," he said.
JD(U) secretary general Varghese George was unavailable for a comment.