Seat-sharing talks gather momentum

With the notification for the local body elections expected soon, seat-sharing talks among major political coalitions have gathered momentum in Kottayam.

Coming hot on the heels of a much-discussed political realignment of the Kerala Congress(M) led by Jose K. Mani, the stakes are high for both the United Democratic Front (UDF) and the Left Democratic Front (LDF) this time.

The National Development Alliance (NDA), meanwhile, is in trouble with the prospective exit of the Kerala Congress led by P.C. Thomas, which seeks to align with the UDF.

While discussions on sharing of seats in local and civic bodies have entered the final stages, discussions on the block and district panchayats are set to commence in a couple of days after a formal meeting of the respective district-level committees of the three coalitions.

With the Mani group in its its fold, the LDF counts on making major inroads into Christian vote base of the rubber heartland in this election. The entry of the new constituent, however, has not come without troubles as the CPI and NCP, two other constituent parties, are reported to have expressed reluctance to forgo their share of seats for the KC(M).

Adding to the confusion, the KC(M) has also expressed its desire to maintain all the seats they contested in the previous election.

According to V.N. Vasavan, the CPI(M) district secretary, all issues with regard to seats would be settled amicably. โ€œThe LDF will be convening a meeting of its district committee on Saturday to kick start discussions on the seat-sharing formula at different levels,โ€ he said.

The UDF, on the other hand, is slated to hold a meeting of its district committee to be attended by AICC general secretary Oommen Chandy, Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan and K.C. Joseph on November 2. As the P.J. Joseph faction of the KC(M) has already demanded the UDF leadership to maintain status quo of the previous local body election with regard to seat sharing, discussions in the UDF is expected to become a stormy affair this time.

โ€œThe proportion of seats to different constituents at the block panchayats and municipalities will be decided at the district level, while subcommittees have been formed at different panchayats for the purpose,โ€ said Joshy Philip, president, District Congress Committee.

The NDA, meanwhile, has already completed two rounds of discussions and is planning to wind up the same by November first week. โ€œTalks at the panchayat level are progressing and are slated to be complete by October 30. The talks will be wound up with a meeting of the NDA district committee on November 2,โ€™โ€™ said a senior BJP leader.

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