Pala MLA Mani C Kappan has officially announced parting ways with the Left Democratic Front (LDF) and he has added that he will join the United Democratic Front (UDF) on Sunday.
According to reports, Kappan, who arrived in Kochi from New Delhi today, claimed that he has the support of nine state-level NCP leaders, seven district presidents, 18 important office-bearers and one national general secretary. He further claimed that he had the support of NCP state president TP Peethambaran and Kappan is hopeful that the NCP national leadership would support him. The MLA added that he and his supporters would participate in the Aishwarya Kerala Yatra when it reaches Pala on Sunday and will officially join the UDF as an ally.
Kappan’s decision to leave the LDF for the UDF, months before the election, has generated a lot of buzz within Kerala’s political scenario.
State Transport Minister and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader AK Saseendran said that Kappan has done great injustice to LDF workers who helped him become an MLA. “Kappan’s announcement to join UDF has done injustice to thousands of LDF party workers who fought day and night to make him an MLA,” Saseendran said, adding that Kappan’s stand surprised party members.
The Transport Minister also questioned Kappan’s urgency to join the UDF. “It was clear from Kappan’s announcement that he would go to the UDF irrespective of the national leadership’s decision,” Saseendran said, “He must explain to the public what was the urgency to make the decision when the party leadership are still discussing the issue.”
According to reports, Saseendran had 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, which Kappan had made.
Shortly after Kappan’s announcement on Friday, state minister MM Mani slammed Kappan for cutting ties with Saseendran faction and joining the UDF. Mani said that even after Kappan leaves LDF, nothing would 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.
CPI (M) state secretary A Vijayaraghavan said that NCP is more important and not Kappan. He added that there is no dispute with the NCP.
On the other hand, Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala welcomed Kappan to the UDF days before Kappan’s announcement to leave the LDF. KPCC president Mullappally Ramachandran also said that the Congress party would provide the party symbol and that they are ready to give him the Pala seat. Coincidently, Ramachandran’s statements came days before Kappan decided to join the front.
Kappan joining the UDF came after Jose K Mani’s Kerala Congress (M) joined the LDF. The Jose-Kappan saga began after the latter defeated the former for the Pala seat in the 2019 by-election.
Fast forward a year later, Jose defected to the LDF and helped the latter breach UDF bastion in the local body elections last year. Soon rumours began to float that Jose is eyeing the Pala seat in the upcoming Assembly elections, however, Kappan slammed 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 out of hand that Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan asked them to settle their differences, but nothing happened. The news of the faction fight reached the ears of the NCP national leadership, following which 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 any talks.