KOTTAYAM: As the state heads to polls for the assembly elections on Tuesday, breakaway factions of the Kerala Congress, especially those led by Jose K Mani and P J Joseph, are facing an existential crisis. Apart from the predominant factions, the ones led by Anoop Jacob, K B Ganesh Kumar and the Janadhipathya Kerala Congress — led jointly by Antony Raju and Dr K C Joseph — are also facing a do-or-die battle.
Interestingly, barring the presence of veteran politician P J Joseph, this election marks a generation shift in Kerala Congress politics. For this is the first election after the death of Kerala Congress stalwarts like K M Mani and C F Thomas. Another Kerala Congress heavyweight, R Balakrishna Pillai, could not participate in electioneering due to poor health.
While Jose is attempting to carry forward his father’s legacy leading the Kerala Congress (M), Anoop Jacob had taken the reins of the Kerala Congress (Jacob) in 2011 following the death of his father T M Jacob. Ganesh Kumar shoulders the responsibility of leading the Kerala Congress (B), founded by his father Balakrishna Pillai. Francis George — son of K M George, a founding leader of the Kerala Congress in 1964 — is now with the Kerala Congress faction led by Joseph.
This poll, Jose’ Kerala Congress (M) and Joseph’s Kerala Congress are contesting 12 and 10 seats respectively. The Kerala Congress parties are locking horns in five constituencies, with the Jose-Joseph fight on show in four — Changanassery, Kaduthuruthi, Idukki and Thodupuzha. In Piravom, Jose faction takes on KC (Jacob).
Though KC(M) has gained an upper hand in Kerala Congress politics by way of a significant position in the LDF, the party leader, Jose, is facing a tough fight in his home turf of Pala. Jose takes on Mani C Kappen of the Nationalist Congress Kerala (NCK), a new constituent of the UDF.
Going by the ground situation, Kappen appeared to have gained an edge in the final stage of campaigning. Realising the trend, the CPM state leadership sent special squads to Pala to ensure that its entire cadre votes are polled on Tuesday. The battle between Jose and Joseph faction is tight in Changanassery, Kaduthuruthi and Idukki as well.
Of all the Kerala Congress candidates in the fray, only P J Joseph, who is contesting from Thodupuzha, is on a strong footing. While the Jose faction’s Sindhumol Jacob is putting up a strong fight against KC (Jacob)’s Anoop Jacob in Piravom, Pathanapuram is witnessing a fierce battle between KC (B)’s Ganesh Kumar and Jyothikumar Chamakkala of the Congress. In the UDF bastion of Idukki, Roshy Augustine of KC (M) — representing the constituency since 2001 — faces one of the toughest contests of his career after switching to the LDF. Francis George of the UDF is his rival there.
The Janadhipathya Kerala Congress, which had contested three seats in the previous assembly elections, was allotted only the Thiruvananthapuram seat this time. Its candidate Antony Raju is facing a tough battle there against UDF’s V S Sivakumar and BJP’s Krishnakumar.
“Continuous splits and a vacuum in leadership has badly affected the Kerala Congress parties. Their existence depends predominantly on UDF politics. But central Travancore Christians — the vote base of KC (M), who don’t wish to work with the Congress — received a new platform when Jose K Mani joined the LDF. At the same time, if LDF loses the elections, it will cost Jose dear,” said political analyst and senior journalist Jacob George.
- Kerala Congress (M) led by Jose K Mani
- Kerala Congress (P J Joseph) merged into Kerala Congress (P C Thomas) recently
- Kerala Congress (Jacob) led by Anoop Jacob
- Kerala Congress (B) founded by R Balakrishna Pillai
- Janadhipathya Kerala Congress led by K C Joseph
- Kerala Cong (Skaria Thomas)
- Kerala Cong (Nationalist) led by Kuruvilla Mathews
- Kerala Janapaksham (Secular) led by P C George
- Kerala Vikas Congress led by Prakash Kuriakose