PJ Joseph likely to contest from Kottayam, Oommen Chandy remains mum

Pressure  is mounting on Kerala Congress (M) to settle internal rumblings of discontent over its candidate for the Kottayam constituency.

Published: 09th March 2019 02:10 AM  |   Last Updated: 09th March 2019 02:36 AM   |  A+A-

Kerala Congress leaders PJ Joseph (L) and KM Mani (File Photo | Rajeev Prasad/EPS)

Kerala Congress leaders PJ Joseph (L) and KM Mani (File Photo | Rajeev Prasad/EPS)

Express News Service

KOTTAYAM: Pressure is mounting on Kerala Congress (M) to settle internal rumblings of discontent over its candidate for the Kottayam constituency. With the UDF leadership tightly shutting the door on the KC(M)’s demand for a second seat, its parliamentary committee and steering committee meetings scheduled for Sunday will be crucial for the party in taking a decision on the candidature.

As the CPM has decided to field its district secretary V N Vasavan in Kottayam constituency, the KC(M) will be forced to come up with a candidate with the same stature to retain the constituency. This would certainly come out as an advantage for KC(M) working chairman P J Joseph, who has already staked claim for the seat. At the same time, consensus still eludes the party core leadership over the candidature as party chairman K M Mani and vicechairman Jose K Mani wanted to keep the seat with their fold, which has widened the divide between Mani and Joseph factions.

ALSO READ | Test of PJ Joseph’s patience could well be KM Mani’s political strategy

However, Mani cannot easily turn down the demand of Joseph, who is one of the senior-most leaders. Moreover, it is learnt the Catholic Church, which always plays a crucial role in KC (M)’s major decisions, is not at all happy with the present developments, especially the stance taken by Mani and his son. All these have made a situation favourable for Joseph, who is adamant on his decision to contest this election. “Joseph is the most suitable candidate the KC(M) can present in Kottayam. Congress workers will certainly work for him,” said a Congress leader.

Will Oommen Chandy contest?

As the poll bugle is about to be sounded, the million-dollar question is whether AICC general secretary and former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy will contest this election. With the LDF taking advantage in the initial stage, pressure is mounting on Chandy to lead the UDF from the front by contesting in Idukki or Kottayam. According to party insiders, Chandy’s candidature would change the entire political scenario in the state, which would bring an even contest in the election.

Oommen Chandy (FIle | EPS)

ALSO READ | Lok Sabha polls 2019: Kottayam awaits fierce battle

However, Chandy is yet to give a clear signal to the party leadership in this regard. “Both Kottayam and Idukki are sure seats for Chandy. Idukki is likely to be his natural choice if he is contesting the election,” said a Congress leader.

Meanwhile, there are several factors, which prevent him from taking the cap. Chandy has been an MLA for the past 49 years and just one year is left to celebrate his 50 years in Assembly.

Moreover, if the UPA does not come to power, he will have to be in Delhi as an MP only. Above all, his shifting to national politics is likely to affect his comeback as a chief minister, if the UDF comes to power next time.

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