KOCHI: When UDF leaders met on Tuesday to iron out differences in Kochi, Kerala Congress (M) leader P J Joseph appeared to be confident to secure a seat for himself in the upcoming Lok Sabha meet triggering speculations that he may have the backing of a major section of the Congress leaders. All the leaders, with the exception of K M Mani, seemed to agree to the idea as reflected in their response, said a person privy to the meeting.
However, sources said the Congress will not concede Kerala Congress (M)’s demand for two seats, which also meant that senior party leaders were open to the idea of Joseph’s entry to the poll fray as the lone party candidate. “Whether it is Kottayam or Idukki, Joseph will win the seat for the UDF,” said sources. When Mani sought two seats for the party, Ramesh Chennithala declined the demand saying the it already has two seats - the Kottayam LS seat and the recently allotted Rajya Sabha seat.
This was seconded by UDF convener Benny Behanan. Former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, also reminded Mani of the ruckus within the Congress after Jose K Mani was awarded the RS seat, sacrificing Congress’ interests.
Joseph arrived at the Ernakulam Guest House directly to attend the talks and joined Mani and other leaders there. However, Mani who was in Kochi, kept away from the meeting convened at DCC office to release the UDF publication ‘The Lost 1,000 days’ (Paazhaaya 1,000 Dinangal) to mark the completion of 1,000 d ay s o f t h e L D F government.
“A major section of the Congress leaders wants to end K M Mani’s supremacy in the UDF. Gifting the RS seat to Jose K Mani is a still sore subject for several leaders. On the other hand, P J Joseph always stood with UDF after the merger of Kerala Congress factions,” said a party leader, who requested not to be named. Besides Mani and Joseph, Jose K Mani MP and Mons Joseph MLA also attended the meeting.