KOTTAYAM: AS uncertainty continues over the allotment of Kerala Congress (M)’s official symbol — two leaves — to UDF candidate Jose Tom Pulikunnel for the Pala bypoll, a PJ Joseph confidant filed his nomination as an independent on Wednesday.
Putting the UDF on the defensive, Joseph Kandathil, general secretary of Karshaka Union — KC’s farmer organisation — filed his papers minutes before the deadline.
The move is considered as a ploy by the Joseph faction to foil Jose K Mani group’s attempts to secure the party symbol for Jose Tom without submitting a request before Joseph, the party’s acting chairman. If Joseph refuses to give permission, Jose Tom will have to contest as an independent.
Joseph said Kandathil filed the nomination with his knowledge and that the latter would withdraw the papers after the scrutiny of nomination.
“The decision was taken by the local leaders to counter the foul play to get the party symbol,” he told mediapersons in Thodupuzha.
P J Joseph said: “In order to reconsider my decision on allowing the party symbol, I’ve already told them (Jose faction) to submit to me, the working chairman who is also party chairman in-charge, a request to allot the party symbol. However, the candidate and others informed me that this won’t be accepted and Tom Jose will contest as an independent. I’ll attend the UDF convention on Thursday and work for the UDF candidate’s victory.”
Joseph faction leaders also handed over a letter to the assistant returning officer, requesting him not to allow Jose Tom to use the party symbol. In the letter, given in his capacity as KC(M) working chairman, Joseph explained the ongoing battle within the party. Jose K Mani faction leader Stephen George too submitted a letter to the officer, claiming its right over the symbol.
Jose K Mani said: “Two leaves is so close to the hearts of the voters in Pala as it’s the symbol K M Mani had used for years while contesting from the constituency. The adamant stance taken by Joseph not to allot the symbol to the UDF candidate is a clear violation of the agreement within the front.’’
Kandathil, meanwhile, denied he was contesting as per Joseph’s direction. “I’ve filed the nomination taking the current political scenario into consideration. If PJ Joseph directs me to withdraw it, then I’ll do it,” he told reporters.
Earlier, Jose Tom and NDA’s N Hari submitted their nomination papers to the assistant returning officer. Following the uncertainty over the party symbol, Jose Tom submitted two sets of papers.
Pala byelection: 3 major candidates file papers
Joseph Kandathil, Jose Tom and NDA candidate N Hari submitted their nomination papers to the assistant returning officer at Lalam. Jose Tom submitted as an independent and a KC(M) candidate.