THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Kerala Congress, a party that splits as it grows and grows as it splits — as famously put by its once supremo KM Mani — has always been an enigma in Kerala politics. Since its inception in 1964 under K M George, the party has witnessed innumerable splits, mergers and crossing-overs to rival political fronts. On Wednesday, when Jose K Mani announced the party decision to cross over to the LDF severing KC (M)’s 39-year-old ties with UDF, the state witnessed yet another political g ambl ing that could well alter the political narrative of central Travancore. Ironically, once part of the Left, Jose will be sharing coalition space with three other KC factions, including the one led by R Balakrishna Pillai, one of the founder leaders of KC.
The Left already has three KC factions, including the KC(B) , KC (Scaria Thomas) and Democratic Kerala Congress, while UDF has two factions led by P J Joseph and Anoop Jacob. The NDA too has one fact ion led by PC Thomas. “KC has always been an individual- centric party. It mostly thrives on its Christian base, rubber-politics and various Church denominations.
We can’t deny this. That’s why KC factions are named after their leaders whether K M Mani, R Balakrishna Pillai, T M Jacob or Scaria Thomas,” said a Left leader. It was in October 1964 after the fall of R Sankar government in a no-confidence motion that the KC came into being. Since then, the party has gone through an array of realignments and KC factions ended up being part of all three fronts at some point. If the first major split was in 1974 under J A Ch a c ko wh o formed the Original KC, it followed a series of new parties that were mostly termed as ‘bracket’ parties, a reference to the leader who headed the particular faction.
Two years later, another split was witnessed, with K M George and K M Mani leading rival factions. In 1976 itself, R Balakrishna Pillai became chairman of the George faction, which later merged with Janata Party. In 1979, two factions were formed and KC (M) under K M Mani came into being, after a tussle between Mani and P J Joseph. Similarly, another KC faction came into existence under Balakrishna Pillai. In between, a couple of mergers happened, including one between Mani and Pillai factions in 1980. In 1981, after a short stint of nearly two years, KC parted ways with the Left and came back into the UDF.
change of guard
The last three decades saw many new leaders taking the reins of various factions under T M Jacob, Joseph M Puthussery, P C George, who later formed KC (Secular), P C Thomas who formed the IFDP and became a Union Minister, Scaria Thomas who joined LDF and Francis George-chaired Democratic Kerala Cong which joined the Left.