A truce appeared to dawn in the State unit of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) riven by disagreement over the proposal to cede the Pala seat to Jose K. Mani of the Kerala Congress (M).
NCP national president Sharad Pawar, Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] general secretary Sitaram Yechury and NCP national general secretary in charge of Kerala, Praful Patel, appeared to have convinced the opposing factions to sink their differences and remain in the Left Democratic Front (LDF).
NCP State president T.P. Peethambaran, incumbent Pala legislator Mani C. Kappan and Transport Minister A.K. Saseendran had met them in New Delhi on Wednesday.
Mr. Kappan’s vehement opposition to ceding the seat to Mr. Mani had brought matters to a head in the NCP. Mr. Saseendran, an NCP veteran, felt the opposite. He reportedly argued for accommodating Mr. Mani, a proposal that had the seal of approval of the CPI(M) State leadership.
He felt the move would bring the NCP rich dividends, including a Rajya Sabha seat that would enhance the party’s national stature. Mr. Saseendran supporters met separately at his official residence, giving the impression that the NCP was on the cusp of a split. They also claimed to have the support of 10 NCP district committees.
Meanwhile, some Congress leaders claimed that Mr. Kappan had contemplated jumping ship. They felt that Mr. Kappan would gravitate towards the United Democratic Front (UDF) and help offset the political setback caused due to the defection of Mr. Mani to the LDF.
Mr. Peethambaran appeared to stick with Mr. Kappan and left the final decision to the NCP’s national leadership. His gambit appears to have paid off for now. Party leaders presented a unified face to reporters in New Delhi. Mr. Patel will visit Kerala to meet Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and other LDF leaders.