2018 reloaded? Congress in quandary as IUML demands additional Rajya Sabha seat

The CPM lost no time in seizing the opportunity to drive a wedge between the two major UDF allies. CPM leaders came out in the open saying the IUML’s demand for a third Lok Sabha seat was “rightful”.
Former Chief Minister of Kerala Oommen Chandy (C) seen with KM Mani and Ramesh Chennithala.
Former Chief Minister of Kerala Oommen Chandy (C) seen with KM Mani and Ramesh Chennithala.(File Photo)

KOCHI: It almost looks like a repeat of 2018, when, ahead of the general elections, the Congress was forced to relinquish a Rajya Sabha seat it could have easily won to the Kerala Congress (Mani). Currently, the air is thick with speculations that the Congress is willing to part with an RS seat to key ally, the IUML.

The Kerala Congress (M) had snapped ties with the UDF in 2016 over disputes with the Congress on ‘bar scam’ in which KC(M) supremo K M Mani had faced bribery charges. Eager to bring him back to the fold, the Congress yielded to his demand for an RS seat for his son Jose K Mani, who was the sitting Lok Sabha member from Kottayam.

Though several Congress leaders were opposed to the idea, party veteran Oommen Chandy stood firm and Jose was given the RS seat.

This decision drew criticism even from the high command, including then-party president Rahul Gandhi. Besides, senior leaders like former KPCC chief VM Sudheeran and ex-Rajya Sabha deputy chairman P J Kurien openly opposed the move. Six Congress MLAs sent letters to Rahul, opposing the decision.

In an identical situation, three RS seats from the state are falling vacant in July this year. The UDF’s strength in the assembly lets it win one seat. And the second leading partner in the coalition is demanding the seat. The Congress finds itself in a quandary as conceding to the demand would see the IUML having two seats in the RS to the one for the Congress from the state.

Congress insiders feel the party may attempt to meet the demands of a key ally.

“Muslim League is a major constituent of the UDF. It is the responsibility of the Congress to bring together democratic and secular forces to take on BJP in the upcoming LS polls. See, the CPM has begun a campaign to woo minority votes. The Congress has to tackle the move. A final decision on allocation of the RS seat to the League will be taken only after talks with party highcommand,” said a top Congress leader.

The CPM lost no time in seizing the opportunity to drive a wedge between the two major UDF allies. CPM leaders came out in the open saying the IUML’s demand for a third Lok Sabha seat was “rightful”. The highly influential IUML has to beg for a third seat inthe Lok Sabha election, they say. LDF convener E P Jayarajan and Industries Ministries P Rajeeve have aired such comments.

Related Stories

No stories found.

X
The New Indian Express
www.newindianexpress.com