THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Kerala Congress (M) leader Jose K Mani, who had put in all pressure to get the Pala assembly seat for his close confidant Jose Tom Pulikkunnel, is now pressing the Congress leadership for the presence of Rahul Gandhi during campaigning. While the Congress leadership does not generally get national leaders for campaigning during byelections, Jose had argued that the Congress high command must consider Pala as a special case and get Rahul Gandhi to campaign during the final stages.
“A huge victory margin is required for the Kerala Congress, especially Jose K Mani faction, and the party wants to plug all loopholes and for that there is a general feeling that the presence of Rahul Gandhi will give the much-required boost in the electoral battle,” a senior Congress leader told Express.
It may be noted that in the 2016 assembly elections, K M Mani won the Pala seat against Mani C Kappan with a margin of 4,703 votes and the KC(M) wants to make sure that the party candidate wins with a record margin this time.Rahul Gandhi had, as AICC president, came to Pala and visited K M Mani’s family after the veteran leader’s passing away and Jose K Mani wants to cash in on the popularity of the Congress party’s national leader and crowd puller to ensure that the party candidate gets maximum votes.
The Catholic Church is a major factor in Pala byelection and with both Jose Tom Pulikkunnel and Mani C Kappan being Roman Catholics with deep roots in the constituency, the KC(M) will be trying to evoke the memories of late Mani and the bonhomie he had shared with the church. Jose K Mani has always been a regular representative of the Government of India during the beatification and canonisation of saints at the Vatican and with his Delhi contacts, he shares an excellent rapport with the Vatican council in India.
One of the major reasons of Jose K Mani to rope in Rahul Gandhi is to evoke the Congress leader’s Roman Catholic roots among the voters as the constituency is dominated by the community.“These are early days of electioneering and we have to work out the modalities and whether the visit of Rahul Gandhi is necessary as generally national leaders of Congress party does not participate in byelection campaigns,”a senior Congress leader told Express.