Jose K Mani elected chairman of Kerala Congress (M), party splits

Kottayam: After weeks-long infighting in the party, the Kerala Congress (M) yesterday split and Rajya Sabha MP Jose K Mani, son of late K M Mani, was elected as the Chairman.

The Kerala Congress (M) is a key partner of the Congress-led UDF in the State and has a strong base in the central Travancore belt, especially among Christians.

The supporters of Jose Mani and working chairman P J Joseph were at loggerheads after the death of party founder K M Mani in April.

At a meeting for State Committee members convened by Jose K Mani yesterday, the party leaders supporting him elected him as the chairman..

Meanwhile, Joseph slammed the new development by saying that it violated all norms of the party constitution, and said Jose Mani was elected by a crowd and not by the State committee. He warned all of Jose’s supporters will be treated as having quit the party. He also further said those who wanted to rectify their mistake can comeback to the party fold.

325 of the 437 committee members attended the meeting presided by K Z Kunjeriya and he announced Jose as being elected unanimously as chairman.

Jose Mani expressed his gratitude to the party leaders for electing him as chairman and said his father was with them in their journey. “I will work hard to follow the path shown by him,” he added.

According to leaders of the Joseph faction, there are a total of 437 members in the Kerala Congress (M)s jumbo state committee. Senior leaders of the party, including former Rajya Sabha MP Joy Abraham, MLAs C F Thomas and Mons Joseph, did not attend the meeting, sources in the Joseph faction claimed. Out of five MLAs of the Kerala Congress (M), only two – attended the meeting.

Jose K Mani’s followers said KC(M)’s Idukki MLA Roshy Augustine and Kanjirappally MLA N Jayaraj and lone Lok Sabha MP of the party, Thomas Chazhikadan, were the prominent leaders who attended the meeting.

Meanwhile, CPI(M) State secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan accused Congress was responsible for the split. “It is a strategic move by the Congress to reap political benefit in Kottayam area by splitting its ally,” he alleged.

NT Bureau