KOCHI: In what seems to be a mass exodus from the Kerala Congress (M), prior to the scheduled announcement of a new party by a section of dissidents led by Francis George in a couple of days, more functionaries resigned from the party on Monday across the state in support of the ongoing revolt against party supremo K M Mani and his son Jose K Mani.
To make things worse for Mani, disputes over possession of party offices have also surfaced.
Turf War in Kanjirappally
A section of party men led by Dr K C Joseph, one of their prominent leaders, forcefully took over an office of the party’s Assembly Constituency Committee in Kanjirappally in Kottayam, a stronghold of the 52-year-old party, and convened a meeting there by noon.
As many as 100 people, including Jose Kochupura and Joy Nelliyani who were followers of P J Joseph before merger of the Mani and Joseph factions, participated in the meeting. They had also removed the office’s board carrying the names of Mani and Joseph. Later, they locked the office with a new lock.
However, soon after the breakaway group left the office premises, leaders of the official faction led by Stenislavos Vettikkatt broke open the office and ‘reclaimed’ it from the dissidents. They also replaced the office board with another one.
It is the same board that was found tampered with on February 24, by altering the party’s name and removing K M Mani’s name, after the revolt in KC(M) started escalating.According to the leaders of the official faction, since the office under reference has been registered in the name of KC(M) working chairman P J Joseph, dissidents do not have right to stake claim on it.
Speaking to ‘Express,’ K C Joseph said there was no dispute over ownership of the office, which according to him belonged to Kerala Congress (Joseph), which has severed ties with the KC(M).
Meanwhile, KC(M)leaders dismissed the dissidents’ claims. They said they had filed a complaint with the police.
Rebellion in Kottayam
KC(M) secretariat member Stephan Chamaparambil and Kerala Students Congress (M) state president Anson Antony have announced their decision to part ways with the KC(M).
“The KC(M) is currently in the clutches of sycophants and flatterers of party chairman K M Mani and his son Jose K Mani. It has become stagnant, as it has not done anything to achieve the goals of the party,” said Stephen who is also general secretary of the Youth Front(M).
Making public their decision to work with Francis George, Anson and James
Michel, another Youth Front leader who recently resigned from the KC(M), alleged that since the merger of KC(M) and KC(J), there has been a hidden agenda in the party to sideline the other leaders to pave the way for Jose K Mani. “This agenda was behind the decision not to claim the Idukki Parliament Seat,” they alleged.
Kerala Students Congress (M) state-level office-bearers Eldos Joseph, Kiran S, Binu Joshua and Shameer P S have also resigned from their respective posts to work with Francis George.
Senior Leaders Quit in Alappuzha
More than 25 senior KC(M)leaders in the Kuttanad Assembly Constituency, including state steering committee member Joseph K Nellivelil, resigned and decided to join the Francis George fraction. Joseph, a former president of the Kerala Youth Front, was president of the Veliyanad block panchayat. According to him, district secretariat members Shibu Manala, Thomas Korah, Lissamma John, James Chunkathil and Sabu Chacko; Vanitha Congress district president Shillamma Joseph; party secretariat member C T Thomas; and Kuttanad Constituency committee president Thomas Joseph are also in the list.
Joseph said seven of the nine ‘mandalam’ presidents had also resigned in order to join the new fraction, in protest against the ‘autocratic leadership’ of K M Mani.Kuttanad, a stronghold of the Kerala Congress was represented by Dr K C Joseph, who has allied with Francis George.
Palakkad Office -bearers Leave
Palakkad district general secretary Joy Kakkandan; district vice-president
Varkey Oommen; district treasurer N V Chacko; district vice-president Prof T M Mathew; district secretaries Ramachandran M G, Adv Stanley James, Kochurani Thomas, Joy Kuzhiveli G, Joy Nambussery and Paulose Ottappalam; district joint secretary Adv Shaji; district committee member K M Joy; State Karshaka Union state vice-president Chackochan Thadathil; Karshaka Union district secretary Jijo Jose; party’s Mannarkad assembly segment president Saji Mundanjerry; and Nelliampathy panchayat member Joseph Thomas have decided to leave the KC(M).
The 23 members who have submitted a written statement to join the Francis George-led faction include a few district level office bearers of the Youth Front (M) also.
They said they were leaving the party as the dream of merger of all the KeralaCongress factions was not likely to materialize under the leadership of Mani.
They said the Kerala Congress(M) was steeped in corruption, and the only agenda before Mani was to foist his son Jose K Mani as the leader.
Split in Kasargod Unit
A section of KC(M) leaders led by district secretary James Anithottam, including Kanhangad Assembly Constituency president P T Joseph and Farmers’ Union district secretary Babu Joseph, have resigned from the party. “Apart from the issues raised by Francis at the state level, differences of opinions at the local level has also led to the split,” said Anithottam. Most of the members who walked out are those who joined the party when the faction led by P J Joseph merged with the Kerala Congress (M). Before the merger, Anithottam was district general secretary of the Kerala Congress (J).
However, the other district leaders of the Joseph faction, including Jerome Joseph, Baby Marur and Kuriachan Kavalavazhi, are still with the Kerala Congress (M).
(With inputs from district bureaux)