Congress -led UDF splits in Kerala

Mani quits the alliance, blaming Cong for the poll rout

Thiruvananthapuram : The Kerala Congress (M) has severed its three decades-old ties with the Congress party sparking speculation about its future political moves.

 The party with six MLAs has decided to quit the United Democratic Front (UDF) led by the Congress party and act as an independent block in the Assembly, citing alleged move  by a section of the Congress party to malign the KC (M) and its leaders.

 The decision was taken at a meeting of the party’s steering committee held at the end of the two-day camp at Charalkunnu in Pathanamthitta district on Sunday.

 Party leader and former finance minister K M Mani alleged that a section of the Congress had hatched a conspiracy to weaken his party.

 “The foundation of a coalition is based on trust, mutual love and help. If they are missing there is no use in continuing in that front. We have been with the UDF for the last three decades. Now time has come to re-examine our stand,” Mani said. He ruled out joining either the Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) or the National Democratic Alliance (NDA)-led by the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Mani said that the KC (M) will maintain equi-distance from all the existing coalitions.

 However, the Congress has taken the statement with a pinch of salt. Many leaders of the party view the move as part of an attempt to build bridges to both the LDF and the NDA.

 While one section believes that the move is intended to please the LDF and thereby save Mani from future probes in the bar bribery case that led to his resignation in November last year, the other section feels that it is aimed at securing a berth for his son Jose K Mani in the Narendra Modi ministry.

However, political observers feel that it may not be easy for the party to get an entry into either LDF or the NDA as both had mounted a big offensive against Mani in the bar bribery case before and during the Assembly polls.

 While the LDF has made known its reservations, the BJP has adopted a wait and watch policy. BJP state president Kummanam Rajashekharan said that there was no change in the party’s stand on the bar bribery case. “Our agitation was based on the conviction that Mani had received bribes. We would wait for the KC (M) to clarify its future course of action before considering any alliance with the party,” he said.

Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president V M Sudheeran has termed the moves by the KC (M) suicidal. He said that the people supporting the party would not approve any alliance with either LDF or the NDA since they want to strengthen the democratic forces against the communal politics of BJP and the politics of violence pursued by the Communists.

CPI (M) state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan and LDF convenor Vaikkom Viswam have viewed the exit of KC (M) from UDF as a sign of disintegration of the opposition coalition.

 The CPI (M) state chief said that some other parties like the Janda Dal (U) and the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) would also desert the UDF soon. The two have urged the Congress to dissolve the UDF.

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