THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The UDF leadership meet held here on Tuesday has decided to postpone the central zone jatha by a week, on expected lines. The jatha will cover the districts of Kottayam, Idukki, Alappuzha and Ernakulam from May 27.
However, all the other three zonal jathas will be held from May 19 itself, coinciding with the fourth anniversary of the Oommen Chandy Government. The decision to postpone the central zone jatha was taken on the personal appeal of KC(M) supremo and Finance Minister K M Mani, maintaining that he is pre-occupied with arrangements for the betrothal ceremony of his granddaughter. Mani didn’t attend the meet as he was in Dubai for a family function.
“The decision was taken as the demand was from a senior leader of the UDF. It has no connection with the bar bribery scam probe,” UDF convener P P Thankachan told media persons after the meet. “All the other jathas will be held as per the original schedule,” he said.
Though the Congress proposed a fresh date for the commencement of the central zone jatha on May 22 or 23, the KC(M) preferred May 29 for a start. Joy Abraham MP, who represented KC(M) in the meeting, contacted Mani over phone and communicated the preferred date. While striking a compromise, the leadership of both the Congress and the IUML had made it categorical that the UDF programmes should not be linked in any manner with the bar bribery scam probe or outcome. “We are not aware whether the vigilance probe would be completed before May 27,” Thankachan replied to queries of media persons.
Despite uttering in public, Mani had tried to prevail upon the UDF leadership to defer the jatha, underscoring that attempts for an image makeover without completing the Vigilance probe into the bar bribery case would be futile.
The Congress leadership, including KPCC president V M Sudheeran, had reached an understanding prior to the meet itself that Mani’s demand shall be acceded to avoid further flow of bad blood in the UDF.
It was felt that since Mani is insisting now only for changing the schedule of central zone jatha on the premise of personal inconvenience, it is better to yield.
At the same time,it was decided that no compromise is needed on other zonal jathas.
Sensing an adamant stand in the ranks of the Congress, Mani had also made a climb down from his initial stand that all jathas should be postponed and angled for a change in plans for the central zone jatha alone, to be run on its captaincy.
To a query, Thankachan said that the meetings JD(U) state president M P Veerendra Kumar had with CPM leaders recently would not affect the UDF ties. Veerendra Kumar, who didn’t attend the meeting and deputed party state secretary general Varughese George as representative, said that there was nothing wrong in meeting CPM leaders and the JD(U) was part and parcel of the UDF.
He also maintained that nothing unnatural need to be attributed to his absence in the UDF leadership meet as it was only held to fine-tune the conduct of zonal jathas. Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, KPCC president V M Sudheeran, Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala, M M Hassan, V D Satheesan, Kerala Congress(Jacob) chairman Johny Nellore and others attended the meet.