Kerala Congress (M) wrests UDF fort from Congress with CPM support

An air of unease looms over the election of a new president for Kottayam district panchayat scheduled for Wednesday as a section of the Kerala Congress (M) members are batting for the post which they believe would land on their lap if they could rein in the support of the LDF.

Kerala Congress-Mani candidate Zacharias Kuthiraveli won the post of Kottayam district panchayat President on Wednesday after Mani accepted Communist Party of India-Marxist support. CPI's lone representative P Sugunan kept away from the polls, while the representative of PC George faction rendered his vote invalid. "Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and CPM leader Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, who have called Mani corrupt, should explain why their six members voted for Kerala Congress", he said.

Philip was elected president of the district panchayat with the support of the Kerala Congress (M) two years ago. "However the severe criticism lashed out by the Congress leaders against the Kerala Congress (M) leadership after that forced the local leadership to rethink their stand", said Stephen George, a steering committee member of the party.

The political developments in Kottayam, considered to be a bastion of UDF politics, have created ripples in both the Congress-led alliance and the CPI (M)-led LDF.

The development means that the Mani faction has no plans to patch up with former ally Congress.

"It is political treachery by Mani and the Congress will not forgive the treatment he meted out to us", said state Congress President M.M. Hassan. Kottayam DCC said Congress, which expected support of the Kerala Congress (M) in the election, felt "cheated" and slammed KC (M) for hobnobbing with the CPI (M).

"The decision was taken by local leadership of the party, who were hurt by the attack mounted by district congress leadership (against KC-M)". The P J Joseph faction and MLAs have expressed their strong opposition to partner with the Left. However, the Mani faction has deviated from this agreement.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.

  • Leroy Wright