As the Kerala Assembly elections are just a few months away, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader and state Transport Minister AK Saseendran has dismissed reports that the party is leaving the Left Democratic Front (LDF).
In the past few months, there have been constant rumours emerging that NCP could leave the LDF over seat-sharing in the upcoming Assembly elections and possibly join the United Democratic Front (UDF). However, it seems like the rumours have been to rest. Saseendran said that such rumours and news are baseless. “This kinds 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,” he said.
Saseendran also made it clear that Kerala Congress (M) chief Jose K Mani joined the LDF not on the understanding of getting the Pala seat. Ahead of the elections, the Pala seat has been a topic of discussion in the last several months. The seat issue became such a huge problem that NCP’s national leadership of Sharad Pawar and Praful Patel were involved.
On February 3, Patel informed that the NCP state unit will not give up the Pala seat in the upcoming Kerala Assembly elections and will continue its alliance with the LDF.
“The party will contest all four seats including Pala in the upcoming Kerala Assembly elections,” Patel said while addressing the media after the meeting between the NCP national leadership and the Kerala leaders in New Delhi. Patel also said that he would travel to Kerala and will hold discussions on the same with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
During the February 3 meeting, Pawar made it clear that the party will not give up on the seat and continue its alliance with the LDF. State NCP senior leaders TP Peethambaran, Mani C Kappan and Saseendran attended the meeting. CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury also attended the meeting. Reportedly, Pawar told Yechury that the ‘losing party’ should not be given the Pala seat.
It is not difficult to decode which ‘losing party’ Pawar was referring to. In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, NCP’s Kappan won the Pala seat after defeating KC (M). The Mani Faction broke away from the UDF and moved to the LDF, with the Joseph faction fighting for legitimacy. While the Jose faction had its issues with the UDF, it was alleged that they joined LDF after the latter’s senior leaders promised Jose the Pala seat. However, Saseendran has now confirmed that was not the case.
Jose also helped the LDF make inroads into UDF bastion in central Travancore during the recent local body elections, solidifying his desire to contest from Pala in the upcoming Assembly elections. This created problems not just for the LDF but also for the NCP as Pala MLA Kappan made it clear he is not giving up the seat. However, Saseendran felt there was no need to be stubborn over the Pala seat, which resulted in a factional fight within the NCP.