Kerala Cong’s Jose faction quits UDF severing 39-year-long alliance to join LDF; resigns Rajya Sabha MP seat

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Jose said he was forced to quit the UDF following prolonged insult by the Congress after his father's death last year

In a major decision, the United Democratic Front’s nearly four-decade long ally, Kerala Congress (M), on Wednesday joined the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) saying that the shift would be crucial for Kerala politics in the forthcoming Assembly polls next year.

Announcing the decision, Jose K Mani, Kerala Congress (M) chairman and son of the party’s founder KM Mani, said that he was forced to quit the UDF following prolonged insult by the Congress after his father's death last year. Jose said that he would resign from the Rajya Sabha too, which he won with the support of the UDF.

He alleged that the Congress-led UDF never invited the Kerala Congress (M) for talks to sort out the issues, which began with the powersharing formula with PJ Joseph, another senior leader in the Kerala Congress (M).

Jose alleged that there was a bid to hijack his party and Congress supported the Kerala Congress Joseph faction and seize the offices.

Joseph's Kerala Congress faction had merged with the Kerala Congress (M) in 2010.

The rift between Jose and Joseph began after the death of Mani. The bypoll to Pala Assembly seat, which Mani represented over 50 years in a row, escalated the tension between the two factions. LDF candidate Mani C Kappan won the bypoll and it was a big setback for the KCM.

Meanwhile, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan welcomed the KCM to the Left Democratic Front (LDF).

KCM is strong in central Travancore region especially Kottayam and certain pockets in Idukki, Kannur and Wayanad districts.

Jose said that he was joining the LDF without any conditions and hailed the development works being carried out by the LDF government.

KM Mani, who had been the finance minister in the UDF ministry in the past, had to resign following bar bribery allegations and the LDF held state-wide agitations seeking his resignation.

The LDF even tried to prevent KM Mani from presenting the state Budget in 2015 and created ruckus in the House then.

Observers, however, are curiously watching if the traditional vote bank of KCM, the Christians, will continue to extend their support to Jose once he switched side to LDF.

The CPM-led LDF, which aims to retain power, is calculating that once KCM Jose faction joins its fold, it will be able to attract the Christian votes in the next Assembly polls.

Image credit: Mathrubhumi

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