KOTTAYAM: Bringing a temporary truce between the two warring factions in the Kerala Congress (M), a UDF sub-committee on Tuesday held discussions with leaders supporting PJ Joseph and assured them of no provocative actions from the part of Jose K Mani and his supporters during campaigning for Pala byelection. The UDF intervention came in the wake of the standoff between Joseph and Jose factions continuing to hurt UDF’s chances in the byelection.
As a result of the talks with a five-member committee, consisting of UDF convener Benny Behnan MP, MLAs Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan and KC Joseph, KPCC general secretary Joseph Vazhakkan and DCC president Joshy Philip, the Joseph faction leaders decided to back out from its earlier decision to launch parallel campaigning for the Independent candidate backed by UDF in Pala.
The decision came after the Congress leaders gave an assurance to Joseph faction leaders Mons Joseph MLA, T U Kuruvila and Joy Abraham that incidents like the heckling of their leader by the Jose faction during the UDF convention would not recur. Later, speaking to media persons, Benny said all issues were settled and that Joseph would join the UDF campaigning after Onam. “The UDF leadership has taken the responsibility of ensuring that the unfortunate incident that happened in the UDF convention in Pala. The UDF will contest the election united,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mons said Joseph wants to ensure the victory of UDF in Pala. According to sources, the sub-committee is now slated to hold separate discussions with the Jose faction to make sure that no untoward incident happens in the future.
At the same time, sources close to the Joseph faction said uncertainty still looms over Joseph participating in the campaign. “It’s now up to the Jose faction to make it clear which is most important for them -- victory in the coming election or the factional fight within,” they said. When contacted, a faction leader said Joseph would not deliberately keep away from campaigning and would come to Pala only if the situation demands.
After receiving advice from various quarters that the infighting in KC(M) is likely to adversely affect the UDF prospects in the byelection, Jose faction also appeared keen on resolving the issue, at least for the time being. “The UDF stands united and its only focus is on electioneering in Pala,” Jose K Mani told media persons earlier in the day.
The Joseph faction had decided not to be a part of the UDF campaign in the wake of the heckling of Joseph by the rival faction at the election convention last week. The decision was also prompted by a controversial editorial that appeared on ‘Prathichaya’, the party mouthpiece, which portrayed Joseph in bad light.