Congress appears all set to interfere in the Kerala Congress (M) crisis, dumping party supremo KM Mani for its working president PJ Joseph and seek a change in the candidate in Kottayam or take over the seat.
The Kerala Congress (M) had announced the candidature of Thomas Chazhikkadan when Joseph had staked claim for the seat and expressed his desire to contest from there. Miffed by being ignored, Joseph knocked at the Congress doors suggesting that he would pull out of the party and remain as a separate block and stay with the United Democratic Front.
A defiant Mani is unwilling to change Chazhikkadan and is said to have suggested that in case Congress was so keen on supporting Joseph, it could sacrifice it's Idukki seat for him. Pressure is mounting in the Congress to demand a change in candidature and make Joseph contest the election.
One factor that makes the Congress take a tough stand against the Mani faction is said to be the age factor of the supremo. The party will find it difficult to stand with Mani's son Jose K Mani, who quit as MP of Kottayam and became a Rajya Sabha member. Jose is expected to take over the party reins from his father very soon sidelining leaders like Joseph who is acceptable to the Congress.
A section of the Congress leadership points out that KC (M) was taken into the UDF fold, it was given the Rajya Sabha seat, one that was for the Congress. It now had the right to take back the Kottayam Lok Sabha as the candidate announcement was made in haste and there was widespread belief that the infighting in the Kerala Congress would have an adversary impact on the UDF prospects in the nearby constituencies of Idukki and Pathanamthitta seats. Joseph has already said he should not be blamed if KC (M)'s 'weak’ candidate is defeated in Kottayam.
A few leaders supporting Joseph have already quit party posts and a section of youth leaders in KC (M) have said that denying Joseph the seat was 'unfair’ indicating that Mani's supremacy in the party was being questioned. This makes things easier for the Congress to interfere in the affairs of KC (M). Joseph has already given it an ultimatum of two days to settle the matter and allow him to have an ‘honourable’ exit from the party.