THIRUVANANTHAPURAM : A beleaguered Kerala Congress (M), which is desperate to wriggle out of the scenario borne from the bribery charge against party supremo and Finance Minister K M Mani, is keeping its fingers crossed even as the Vigilance probe or any other investigation has only a limited scope to turn the tables on the veteran leader.
Doing a tightrope walk politically,however,few options are left in front of the party to realise an easy way out as the LDF camp has also hardened its stand against Mani. With a sharp decline in the credibility of the party, a meeting of the high-power committee has been convened here on Wednesday evening to assess the whole developments.
There is a feeling among a section of party leaders that the ‘A’ faction had played a role and conspired to put Mani in a spot, notwithstanding the fact that Chief Minister Oommen Chandy himself, who is the moving force of the Congress faction,is defending the Finance Minister to the hilt.
Jose K Mani MP, the political heir apparent of Mani and his followers are keen that the conspiracy angle should not be left unattended and if warranted,the party should respond vigorously by even pulling out of the ministry.
However, there are only a few takers for such a line as majority in the party are of the view that the topmost priority should be to save the organisation and its supreme leader first at this juncture.
“The feeling of this lot is not to antagonise the Congress now in any way, especially since there is no surety of support from the LDF camp,” a member of the high-power Committee told Express. “All are so sad that our leader has been left in a piquant situation. The bribery charge will not hold weight, but the damage it has wrought cannot be dismissed,” admitted Joseph M Puthuserry, party state general secretary. “We would strive hard to undo it,” he said.
But the calculation of hardliners in the party is that accusations of corruption against Mani will boomerang on the Congress and a few of its Ministers itself,if the issue escalates to any stage further. That the bar owners would spill the beans and make things difficult for all is looked upon and even manoeuvered by a few Kerala Congress vanguards, it is reliably learnt. The Congress has taken a decision not to precipitate anything in the matter and the irrepressible T N Prathapan MLA who criticised Mani had to eat humble pie after Oommen Chandy caught hold of his verbal showers in the open and put him in his place.
The preliminary probe by Vigilance as well as constitution of a team on Tuesday to conduct it is being watched carefully by KC fold. Those in the KC who are cut up with the Congress for various reasons has turned the developments to beef up their arguments of conspiracy hatched against the regional outfit with the knowledge of the former’s leadership.
The outcome of the high power committee meet on Wednesday would be keenly watched, as it would be an indicator on the future relations between the Congress and Kerala Congress. With the upcoming local body polls, followed by the Assembly polls for a political match,it will have a trickling effect. The stand of KC vice-chairman and Government Chief Whip P C George is adding spice to the whole development.
With statements apparently supportive to Mani,but with loaded innuendos in it, the irritant and counter-productive value of George in the UDF fold is not missed. Equally amusing is the tug of war in the CPM leadership over the stand towards Mani, with V S Achuthanandan insisting that he will not settle for anything less than a CBI probe on the bribery charges against Mani Vs others, who want a judicial inquiry.