Leadership meetings likely after the Budget session of Assembly
The Left Democratic Front (LDF) is bracing itself to navigate the "minefield" of Assembly seat-sharing delicately. The ruling front wants to preserve coalition unity as it makes an all-out bid for a second innings in power.
According to a ruling front insider, informal talks are on between coalition partners. However, the LDF leadership is likely to start seat-distribution consultations by January end, probably after the Budget session of Assembly.
The latest talking point in the LDF is reportedly the proposed merger between the Loktantrik Janata Dal (LJD) and Janata Dal (S). Some leaders view the coming together of the parties could usher in a new calculus for seat-sharing, particularly in north Kerala.
By some accounts, the merger proposal had caused an extent of uneasiness in the Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)]. At least a few CPI(M) leaders had reportedly felt the JD (S) in Karnataka often displayed an "affinity" with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
A seemingly BJP-friendly JD(S) in the neighbouring State would provide ammunition to the Congress to attack the LDF at the hustings. Moreover, the LDF wanted to avoid the Vadakara constituency, a JD(S) stronghold, from becoming a bone of contention between the LJD and JD(S) factions in an amalgamated JD(S).
The LDF is also keen to avoid a split in the State-unit of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) over accommodating Kerala Congress (M) leader Jose K. Mani’s aspiration to contest the Assembly elections from Pala.
Mani C. Kappan is the incumbent MLA. He had wrested Pala from the KC(M) in the Assembly byelection in 2019. Mr. Kappan had made it evident that he would quit the LDF than give up the hard-won constituency. NCP State president T.P. Peethambaran had backed Mr. Kappan.
However, Transport Minister A.K. Saseendran, another power centre in the NCP, reportedly held a different view. He had purportedly argued for accommodation with the KC(M). NCP leader Sharad Pawar is likely to arrive in Kerala to hold talks with LDF leaders.
Congress leadership is reportedly keen to make Mr. Kappan jump ship. It has allegedly tested the water via intermediaries. The Congress is also monitoring the JD(S) developments with political intent. The Communist Party of India (CPI) is also likely to seek more seats. Other coalition partners are also expected to put forward new demands.
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