Amid the move by the LDF to attract Kerala Congress (M) faction led by Jose K Mani into its fold, the Congress central leadership has adopted a 'wait and watch' policy while authorising the UDF to resolve the issue and retain its estranged ally in its camp.
The Jose faction of KC(M), which has two parliament members, has protested against the United Democratic Front's decision to keep it away from their meetings till it accepts the agreement reached by the coalition earlier on the Kottayam district panchayat president post.
The CPI(M) has started sending feelers to attract Jose K Mani faction in its fold after its "ouster" from the UDF following a rift between two factions of KC(M)- led by PJ Joseph and Jose K Mani over the latter's refusal to honour the deal with regard to power-sharing of the pancharat president post.
"Kerala Congress (M) is a UPA partner. They became a member of the UPA as they are part of the UDF in Kerala. The high command wants the issue be resolved at the state-level," a senior Congress leader told PTI.
Asked whether the party central leadership will intervene to resolve the crisis since Jose K Mani faction has two MPs-- one each in Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha, the Congress leader said, "let's wait and see."
While warring faction leader Jose K Mani is a Rajya Sabha MP, his party leader Thomas Chazhikadan is a member of Lok Sabha representing Kottayam constituency. Attacking the UDF, the CPI(M) state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, had in an article published in party mouthpiece "Deshabhimani" two days ago, said the Congress-led front had 'failed' to resolve the rift between two factions of Kerala Congress (M). In a bid to keep the Jose faction in its fold, the UDF leadership had done a U-turn on Wednesday, saying it had not been ousted, but only been asked to keep away from the front meetings.
The volte-face had come days after UDF convener Benny Behanan announced that the front had decided to oust the Jose faction following its refusal to honour the agreement with regard to power-sharing of a Panchayat President post in Kottayam. According to the UDF pact, the Jose faction was allowed to hold the post of panchayat president for eight months and the faction led by party working chairman, PJ Joseph for the remaining six months.
However, after their term, the Jose faction refused to resign, prompting the UDF to take action. P J Joseph claimed Jose's faction was eyeing the LDF. Meanwhile, Jose K Mani on Saturday cautiously reacted to the CPI(M)'s bid to attract it to the LDF fold.
"We will take an appropriate decision at the appropriate time," he told reporters in Kottayam. He said the party's current focus was on the upcoming local body polls in Kerala. With the Local body elections due by this year end and the crucial assembly polls next year, the Jose faction, which claims to have a sizeable following in the central Kerala Christian belt, is keeping its cards close to its chest.