Will join UDF and demand three seats, including Pala
Incumbent Pala legislator Mani C. Kappan announced a new political party, the Nationalist Congress Kerala (NCK), here on Monday.
Mr. Kappan had exited from the LDF in a fit of pique recently over the move to cede his sitting seat to Jose K. Mani of the Kerala Congress (M).
Mr. Kappan is the president of the new outfit. Babu Karthikeyan is the working president. P. Gopinath and Zulfikar Mayoori are vice presidents. Siby Thomas is the party’s treasurer. Mr. Kappan also waved a long list of State and district office-bearers.
They are all “Kappan loyalists” who left the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) following a rift with Transport Minister A. K. Saseendran over the Pala question.
Mr. Saseendran, an NCP veteran and an eight-time legislator, had convinced the party’s national leadership that it was politically expedient to cede the Pala seat to Mr. Jose and remain in the LDF.
Exit from LDF
The NCP decision had left Mr. Kappan in the lurch and paved the way for his exit. NCP State president T. Peethambaram was sympathetic to Mr. Kappan’s cause initially. However, he soon fell in line with the party national leadership.
Mr. Kappan said the LDF had forsaken him to favour “newly arrived” Jose. K. Mani.
He had tasted success in Pala in the 2019 Assembly byelection when the LDF lost dismally to the Congress in the Lok Sabha polls. Some leaders had forgotten his long and loyal innings in the LDF, he said.
Mr. Kappan saw the writing on the wall when Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan indicated that he should contest from Kuttanad. However, he did not want to deprive late NCP leader Thomas Chandy’s brother of the seat. The NCK would enter the UDF. It would retain the Pala seat and seek two more, he said.
The Congress has seen an opportunity in Mr. Kappan to avenge Mr. Jose’s defection from the UDF to the LDF. It had rousingly welcomed Mr. Kappan to the UDF fold when the Aishwarya Kerala Yatra by Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala entered Pala.
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