The Kerala Congress (Mani) candidate for the Pala by-election may be forced to contest as an Independent as party working chairman PJ Joseph has ruled out allotting him the 'two leaves' party symbol.
Joseph's tough stance has shattered the facade of a truce that was reached after many deliberations. UDF candidate Jose Tom Pulikkunnel will now be a UDF-backed Independent. Joseph has also made it clear that he will not sign the nomination papers of Jose Tom. The candidate is likely to file two sets of papers, one asking for the party symbol and another seeking a symbol of his choice among the ones allocated to Independents.
Joseph said today that Jose Tom was not the party's candidate and so could not be allotted the party's official symbol.Incidentally, Jose Tom was suspended from the party at the height of the leadership tussle between Joseph and Jose K Mani, MP, after the death of party supremo KM Mani.
While Jose wanted to field his wife Nisha as the candidate from Pala for the by-election caused by the death of his father KM Mani, Joseph took the stand that 'winnability' should be the factor for deciding the candidate.
In a major political move, the Jose Mani faction proposed the name of Jose Tom, close to KM Mani which had to be accepted by the Joseph faction. Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala while announcing the candidature had said there were certain technical issues regarding the party symbol.
Both the factions had approached the Election Commission staking claim to be the original KC (M). Realising this, the candidate initially announced that he did not want the party symbol from Joseph as KM Mani was his 'symbol'.
Joseph was quick to respond that he would not sign the nomination paper. "He has not asked for the symbol and there is no need to grant it. He stated that KM Mani is his symbol. He is contesting as UDF independent candidate. He is not representing the party. So I will support him in the election," was Joseph's response.
He was also highly critical of Jose K Mani for approaching the Election Commission for the symbol. Two nomination set could be filed as the Jose K Mani faction pins its hopes on Joseph to succumb, which is unlikely.