KOTTAYAM: The party nominee will contest the Pala byelection without the official symbol, that too as an independent candidate. The feud between P J Joseph and Jose K Mani factions over ‘Two Leaves’ has taken the Kerala Congress (M) to such a situation as the constituency gets ready for a bypoll for the first time in its history, having been represented by K M Mani for 54 years.
It all happened in a few hours. After day-long discussions and arguments on Thursday, returning officer S Sivaprasad rejected KC(M) official candidate Jose Tom Pulikkunnel’s one set of nomination papers citing lack of supporting documents from the party leadership even as he accepted another set, which was submitted as an independent.
Sivaprasad told Express he considered the Idukki Munsiff Court order in the dispute over KC(M) chairman’s post and P J Joseph’s letter stating the party was not fielding any candidate in this byelection. The returning officer also considered Joseph’s arguments that Stephen George, who endorsed Jose Tom’s nomination, was already suspended from the party and hence the nomination itself was invalid.
Joseph Kandathil pulls out of the race for Pala seat
After ensuring that Jose Tom will not be getting KC(M)’s symbol, Joseph Kandathil, the rebel candidate fielded by Joseph faction, withdrew his nomination. Unfazed by the setback, Jose Tom reiterated that K M Mani would be his election symbol.
Though it came as a big jolt to the Jose faction in the power struggle following the demise of his father and KC (M) stalwart K M Mani, the UDF leadership en-masse threw its weight behind its candidate Jose Tom and launched official electioneering with a UDF convention in Pala on Thursday evening. Speaking to reporters before proceeding to the convention, AICC general secretary Oommen Chandy said the issues related to the symbol would not affect UDF’s prospects.
“It was only a technical issue, related to a case filed earlier. This won’t affect the election in any way and the UDF candidate will emerge victorious with a thumping margin,” he said. Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala denied the symbol issue will affect the front chances.“We’ve nothing to do with the Election Commission’s decision. But, the UDF stands united and we’ll retain K M Mani’s seat,” he said.
Bypoll: 14 candidates in the fray Kottayam: After the scrutiny of nomination papers submitted for contesting in the Pala by-election was completed on Thursday, 14 candidates are remaining in the fray. While the returning officer and Deputy Collector S Sivaprasad rejected the nomination papers of two candidates, one candidate withdrew his papers on Thursday.
The returning officer rejected the nominations of independent candidate Dr K Padmarajan and BJP’s dummy candidate Sasikumar. Meanwhile, Kerala Congress (M)’s rebel candidate Joseph Sebastian alias Joseph Kandathingal, who submitted his papers as an independent candidate, withdrew it as per the advice of his leaders. Though one set of nominations submitted by Jose Tom Pulikkunnel and Baby Mathayi to contest as KC (M) candidates was rejected by the returning officer, their nominations to contest as independent candidates were accepted.