KOTTAYAM: There is no doubt that a major political experiment in this assembly election was the LDF decision to induct Kerala Congress (M) led by Jose K Mani into the coalition. The success of this experiment will become clear when the results are announced on Sunday.Whatever be the results, one thing is certain — that Jose K Mani will be the major gainer or loser in this experiment. In other words, Jose, who owns the legacy of K M Mani and Kerala Congress politics, is at a crossroads in his political career.
According to political observers, Jose’s political existence predominantly depends on the chances of Pinarayi Vijayan-led LDF government retaining power. Jose’s entry into the LDF was directly orchestrated by Pinarayi Vijayan, and hence Pinarayi’s prospects will definitely have a direct impact on Jose’s political career.
Taking into account the possibility of LDF retaining power and Jose’s KC (M) showing better performance by winning a considerable number of seats, Jose will undoubtedly emerge as a leader to be reckoned with. Apart from Pinarayi offering him one of the important portfolios in his Cabinet — most likely Revenue or Education, Jose will get an opportunity to play a major role in widening LDF’s base among minorities.
“In such a situation, Jose will get a chance to take more responsibilities for the LDF. Apart from wooing the remaining Christian communities who have still not taken the LDF into confidence yet, Jose can open the doors for discussions with the Muslim community. Above all, Pinarayi can use Jose to rein in the CPI, if LDF comes to power with a comfortable margin,” said a senior journalist in Kottayam.
At the same time, considering the tough fight Jose faced in Pala from his rival candidate Mani C Kappen of the UDF, there exists a possibility of Jose losing even if LDF retains power. Such a situation will test the leadership capability of Jose, as he will be forced to control senior colleagues in his party, who are likely to win the elections from other constituencies. Moreover, at least for the timebeing, Jose will have to lead the party without any parliamentary positions. Though the vacancy that emerged after Jose resigned from Rajya Sabha has not been filled so far, it is not sure whether LDF will prefer Socialist Janata (Democratic) party over KC(M) to address the SJ(D)’s grievances for not offering a Lok Sabha seat in the previous parliament elections.
However, in a situation in which the LDF loses the elections, Jose will be forced to face tough consequences. LDF’s defeat may trigger major changes in the political equations in the CPM and chances are high for Jose bearing the brunt of the movements against the dictatorial leadership of Pinarayi. It won’t be a surprise if Jose is labelled as a pied piper of the KC(M) in such a situation.