Joseph’s remarks add fuel to speculation of realignment

Adding fuel to speculation of yet another political realignment, Kerala Congress leader P.J. Joseph on Tuesday expressed his willingness to give the Pala Assembly seat to Mani C. Kappan, MLA, of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), a constituent of the Left Democratic Front (LDF).

Talking to mediapersons, Mr. Joseph hoped that Mr.Kappan would contest as the UDF candidate from the seat in the coming Assembly polls. “We have decided to hand over that seat. My assessment is that Mr.Kappan will be contesting for the UDF in the end,” he said.

The statement of Mr. Joseph assumes significance particularly in view of the dispute between the NCP and the Kerala Congress (M) faction led by Jose K. Mani following the latter’s entry into the LDF. Though the dispute pertains to issues over seat-sharing during the recent local body polls, at the core of the episode is the claim raised by both parties over the Pala Assembly seat.

In a statement here on Tuesday, Mr. Kappan asserted his allegiance to the LDF and held that he had no idea whatsoever about the remarks made by Mr. Joseph. “P.J. Joseph is a family friend of mine,” he said.

The Congress, meanwhile, appeared non-committal to Mr. Joseph’s proposal and said the UDF had not entrusted anyone to announce its candidate in Pala. It, however, did not rule out reports of the coalition attempting to take advantage of the situation and reaching out to disgruntled leaders within the NCP.

Following reports that Mr.Mani had demanded the Pala seat, Mr. Kappan had said there was no question of giving up the seat. Mr. Kappan, who had unsuccessfully contested thrice against K.M. Mani, rode on his popularity and the factional fight within the KC(M) to emerge victorious during the byelection last year.

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