Kerala Assembly Elections: Mani C Kappan likely to switch sides to the UDF if denied Pala seat
With the Kerala Assembly elections months away, the Pala seat continues to be in the eye of the storm as Pala MLA Mani C Kappan has left for New Delhi to meet Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) supremo Sharad Pawar regarding the current political situation in Kerala.
According to some reports, Kappan may leave the Left Democratic Front (LDF) and join the United Democratic Front (UDF) if he is denied the Pala seat. Kappan will be meeting Pawar this afternoon and will announce his decision regarding leaving the front on Friday. Reportedly, the NCP national leadership has also summoned NCP Kerala president TP Peethambaran and Transport Minister AK Saseendran along with Kappan to New Delhi. Kappan sent a letter giving details of the current political situation in Kerala ahead of his meeting with Pawar.
Reportedly, senior NCP national general secretary Praful Patel was denied a meeting with Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to hold discussions regarding the seat-sharing for the upcoming Kerala elections. Reports suggest that the LDF and CPM leadership are staying quiet on the Pala seat issue which is likely to be assigned to Kerala Congress (M) head Jose K Mani. If Kappan chooses to join UDF, the NCP state unit may not move with him and instead remain with the LDF.
Earlier, Saseendran dismissed reports that the party is leaving the LDF. He said that such rumours and news are baseless. “This kind of news is an attempt to create misunderstanding among party cadre and leadership circles. There are no circumstances for the NCP to quit the LDF,” Saseendran said adding that Jose K Mani joined the LDF not on the understanding of getting the Pala seat.
Meanwhile, the Congress-led UDF could see this as huge opportunity to rope in Kappan to contest for the Pala seat under the UDF banner. The Congress state leadership would decide on bringing Kappan in. All India Congress Committee (AICC) KC Venugopal told a leading Malayalam channel that Kappan is a popular figure in Pala. It is clear that the Congress identifies Kappan as an important candidate to contest from Pala.
Coincidently, there is a good chance that Kappan may join UDF on Friday as it is the same day that the Ramesh Chennithala-led Aishwarya Kerala Yatra will be entering Kottayam. The stars couldn’t be aligned any better. In December, Kerala Congress (J) chief PJ Joseph offered the Pala seat to Kappan if he joins the UDF. However, Kappan said, “I have never thought of switching to another political front. In a short period, I have managed to bring in development to Pala.” He added that he is not interested in getting Rajya Sabha berth at anyone’s mercy.