The Nationalist Congress Party’s (NCP) Kerala unit is heading for a split as Pala MLA Mani C Kappan has publicly announced he will quit the Left Democratic Front (LDF) and join the United Democratic Front (UDF).
Kappan told reporters that he will join the UDF as a constituent party. According to reports, Kappan had requested the NCP national leadership to decide before UDF’s Aishwarya Kerala Yatra entered Pala. Though Kappan has made it clear he will join UDF, NCP state leader and Transport Minister AK Saseendran will remain with the LDF even if the Pala seat is not given to the NCP. With the two factions taking a stand, it has left NCP supremo Sharad Pawar in a tight spot.
According to reports, Saseendran has asked Kappan to refrain from joining the UDF. There were also speculations that Kappan would join the UDF when the Aishwarya Kerala Yatra reached Kottayam.
Meanwhile, state minister MM Mani has slammed Kappan for cutting ties with Saseendran faction and joining the UDF. Mani said that even after Kappan leaves the LDF nothing will happen. “Kappan won the Pala seat with the help of the LDF,” Mani said, adding that Kappan does not have the support of the people. “Every time he lost, he used to go behind the film fraternity,” Mani said.
With Kappan publicly announcing that he will join the UDF as an ally, it is a no-brainer that LDF would be allowing Kerala Congress (M)’s chief Jose K Mani to contest from Pala. The Jose-Kappan saga began after Kappan defeated Jose for the Pala seat in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Fast forward to a year later, Jose left the UDF and defected to the LDF. Jose helped LDF breach UDF bastion in the local body elections held in 2020. Soon rumours began to float that Jose is eyeing the Pala seat in the upcoming Assembly elections, however, Kappan slammed the rumours saying that he will not give up the seat no matter what happens. While Kappan stood his ground, Saseendran said there is no need to have a stubborn stance over the seat. This led to a birth of factions between Saseendran and Kappan.
The faction fight got so out of hand that Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan asked them to settle their differences, however, nothing happened. The news of the faction fight reached the ears of the NCP national leadership. Sharad Pawar and Praful Patel called the leaders to settle the issue. While Pawar and Patel made it clear that the party will not give up on the seats promised to them, the CPM kept silent. Patel even reached out to Vijayan, but the latter did not engage in talks.
While the NCP national leadership are still contemplating whether or not to leave the LDF, Kappan has made his decision clear. Kappan has asked the NCP national leadership to make an announcement at least by February 14.