A byelection in Pala will be held very soon. This election follows the death of KM Mani who represented Pala for a record time of over 52 years. During this time he became the tallest Kerala Congress leader and had alliances with the Congress and the CPM. When he died, the Kerala Congress faction led by him was virtually split over his successor. His son Jose K.Mani has been representing Kottayam for the last 2 terms. Now he is a Rajya Sabha member, a clever move by his father Mani.
The Kerala Congress was founded by Mannath Padmanabhan who led the agitation against the CPI government headed by EMS. The Kerala Congress was formed in 1964. They claimed to be successors of PT Chacko who had to resign from his post in the wake of a travel with a woman. R Sankar was the chief minister and Chacko and Sankar did have differences. KM Mani joined the Kerala Congress later. The rest is the history of Mani's moves from the Congress alliance to the CPM alliance. In his last days he faced a very serious charge of corruption in the liquor shop auction. His death put an end to all that.
Now the Kerala Congress is split into 7 groups. Each one allied with the Congress or the CPM and the BJP. In short, it's a move for power and truth to tell, the Catholic church has a say in the party's decision making. The Kerala Congress enjoys support in 2 districts of Kerala, Kottayam and Idukki, and they have used that position to the best requirement of the Kerala Congress members and the Catholic church. In this the Nair community has got nothing worthwhile; they have gained by their alignment with either the CPM or Congress and lately with the BJP. They have gained little in this political move compared to the Catholics and the Ezhavas. The Ezhavas are the largest community who have been staunch supporters of the CPM or CPI. They have done the worst things with their community leader supporting the CPM but ensuring that his son Thusar Velapally is with the BJP.
In Pala there are 3 main candidates. Mani Kappan is the nominee of the Maharashtra based NCP at the moment supported by the CPM. The Kerala Congress has the support of the Congress and the BJP is just trying its best to prove that it has some votes in all the assembly constituencies of Kerala. The game has started between Mani group and the Joseph group; the Congress is supporting both the groups, a huge problem for the Congress which cannot discard either Mani or Joseph. The CPM is trying to win Pala which has been consistently defeating CPM sponsored or CPM candidates.
That shows this is a very important battle. Kappan's father was an MP. Kappan fought 3 elections as the nominee of the CPM and he lost, but gained votes against Mani. This time the CPM is, activists say, sure of making history by winning Pala the bastion of the Kerala Congress. Hope springs eternal.
The Mani group’s candidate Jose Tom is a new one in the race. The Joseph group vehemently backs the Kerala Congress candidate. The Congress will be forced to decide on whether to support Mani or to back Joseph. The influence of the Catholic church is vital; they have to choose. The game has just started. It will not end with this Pala election and the CPM is playing a very devious game which every party has played in Kerala's history.
Currently in this election the CPM will have to say where it stands on Sabarimala and the Orthodox Jacobites church dispute. People of Kerala can't be fooled forever. The CPM should make it clear whether it stands for the Supreme Court’s verdict. Pinarai Vijayan can't implement the SC verdict on the church dispute while it has said it can't ignore the Supreme Court judgment on Sabarimala. Pinarai Vijayan recently said that his party continues to stick to its Sabarimala policy. Kodiyeri Balakrishnan speaking after the party committee meeting recently in Thiruvananthapuram said a diametrically opposite view. This shows the party is divided on this. No point in not highlighting it , for people of Pala are highly educated and rich by Kerala standards. They can't be fooled forever.
There is a similar problem in the churches which has to be solved. For example the Marthomites have to decide on taking action against those who violate the rule on which the Marthomites split from the Jacobites; the issue of praying for Mother of God and worshipping her. Similarly all Christians will have to obey what the Bible says and what its priests and bishops tell us : pay unto Caesar what is Caesar's . Hardly one percent of we Christians care for it.
That is where the Hindu community score, for it has no Bible, no rule guiding the believers. As the Supreme Court said Hinduism is not a religion. Muslims are a different community. They believe that the Koran is the last word on everything .
The whole issue will come to light during Pala election. No matter what the outcome and who wins the elections it will have a bearing on Kerala politics. It's time the CPM made clear its stance. This applies to the Congress and the BJP. It doesn't apply to Kerala Congress which has adopted a thoroughly unbecoming part- of aligning with the major political parties, the Congress and the CPM. They should categorically say they don't want the Kerala Congress and the Muslim League. Both parties should have the guts to say it.
The ideas and facts written in the column are those of the author.