Kerala Congress (M) mulls returning to UDF
Kerala’s Catholic Church-backed party, Kerala Congress (M), is seriously considering returning to the Congress-led Opposition UDF which it had left in August last year severing a three-decade-old alliance.
The KC(M)’s return to the UDF is likely to happen before the next Lok Sabha election.
The KC(M), known as a party of cash crop farmers, is preparing to launch agitations against the alleged “anti-people programmes” of the BJP-led NDA Government in the Centre and CPI(M)-headed LDF Government in the State and observers interpret this as a clear indication of its move to go back to the Congress-led alliance.
There were rumours to the effect that the KC(M) had been planning to join hands with the NDA, an idea supported by the Kerala BJP leadership, but that possibility has faded after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the top BJP leadership “failed” to consider it for a berth in the Union Ministry in the recent reshuffle.
Indications of the KC(M)’s plan not to cooperate with the NDA were given by none other than former Minister KM Mani, chairman of the party, when he said, “(The Prime Minister) has been saying, “Achche Din, Achche Din”, for a long time. But so far we have not been able to see even a dawn of that Achche Din.”
That Mani and his party are unhappy with the BJP had become amply clear the other day when he said that the BJP was not going to make any gain in Kerala (in winning the support of the Christian community) by inducting former bureaucrat Alphons Kannanthanam, a Christian, into the Union Ministry.
According to observers, many leaders of the KC(M) were supportive of the idea of joining hands with the NDA and this opinion had gained strength following rumours that the BJP was planning to invite a Christian from Kerala to join the Ministry.
There were also hopes that that the opportunity might go to Jose K Mani, son of Mani and Lok Sabha member from Kottayam.
“On the one hand, the KC(M) is harshly criticizing the BJP by alleging that that the Achche Din claims have failed and on the other they are attacking the LDF Government in the State over issues like the rise in prices of essential commodities. Their intentions are quite clear,” said a leader of the Kerala Congress faction led by PC Thomas, an ally of the BJP.
Observers point out that no factor exists at present to prevent KC(M)’s re-entry into the UDF. Front leader Congress and Muslim League, second biggest UDF constituent, have already hinted at the necessity of the return of Mani’s party into the front. Also, the other constituents of the front also are not averse to the idea of Mani returning to the front.
“The Congress – and for that matter the UDF – and the KC(M) need the active cooperation of each other to face the coming Lok Sabha election, considering the state of affairs in Kerala politics. Without KC(M), the UDF need not think of making any gain in central Kerala and without UDF, KC(M) cannot even put up a good fight,” a senior journalist pointed out.
Congress leaders are of the opinion that Mani cannot feel at home in any formulation other than the UDF. The KC(M) has six members in the State Assembly and they are sitting as a separate bloc since the party severed its ties with the UDF in August last year for reasons that are still not clear to the Congress or other UDF partners.
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