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Kerala Congress 'Sacrifices' Its Sole Rajya Sabha Seat For Ex-ally, Mani Has the Last Laugh

Among the three Rajya Sabha seats falling vacant, two will go to the Left and one seat to the Congress-led UDF alliance. The decision to set aside that seat for Kerala Congress(M) comes amidst a rebellion by younger leaders in the Congress who have questioned why key posts were being continually given to party veterans.

Achyuth Punnekat | News18

Updated:June 8, 2018, 9:15 PM IST
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Kerala Congress 'Sacrifices' Its Sole Rajya Sabha Seat For Ex-ally, Mani Has the Last Laugh
File Photo of KM Mani.
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Thiruvananthapuram: The Congress party in Kerala has decided to back the party of its former ally, K M Mani, for a Rajya Sabha seat. Sources told News18 that a member of Kerala Congress(M) will be nominated during the upcoming election to the upper house. The surprise decision came after Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala, former Chief Minister Oomen Chandy and KPCC Chief MM Hassan met K M Mani.

On Wednesday, senior leader of key Congress ally Muslim League, PK Kunjali Kutty, had flown to Delhi with Mani’s son, Jose K Mani, to meet the top Congress leadership. Speculation is rife that Jose K Mani will be get the Rajya Sabha seat, although no official announcement has been made yet.

Among the three Rajya Sabha seats falling vacant, two will go to the Left and one seat to the Congress-led UDF alliance. The decision to set aside that seat for Kerala Congress(M) comes amidst a rebellion by younger leaders in the Congress who have questioned why key posts were being continually given to party veterans. The younger leaders were especially riled by the prospects of the veterans like PJ Kurien being nominated repeatedly.

PK Kunhalikutty has pointed out that since the seat was being vacated by a Kerala Congress(M) Leader, Joy Abraham, the seat should ideally go to that party.

With sole seat up for grabs gone now, the decision to set aside the Rajya Sabha seat for Kerala Congress (M) is bound to face criticism from within Congress ranks. There have been murmurs already that Congress should retain the Rajya Sabha seat for itself, considering it is the senior partner in the UDF alliance. Earlier, the so-called ‘I’ group in the Congress and the party’s Kottayam district committee, had warned against any move to nominate Jose K Mani to the Lok Sabha in 2019 from the Kottayam.

Mani’s Kerala Congress(M) has only 6 MLAs in the state assembly. But Mani’s party has been at pains to point out there is no reason why the Rajya Sabha seat should not go back to it. They have highlighted how JD(S) leader M P Veerendra Kumar was nominated to the Rajya Sabha despite having no MLAs in the assembly.

With this, all ambiguity over Mani’s return to the UDF fold is now over. The KC(M) had quit UDF after the 2016 assembly election. Efforts to bring him back to the fold have been on for months now, especially since some overtures towards Mani by the Left last year.

They have gained urgency after the Congress’s drubbing in the recently concluded Chengannur by-election. Mani had offered support to the UDF candidate in Chengannur but had shied away from announcing a formal re-entry into the opposition front in Kerala.

It is understood that the move to hand the seat to KM Mani has the blessings of former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy. In a not-so-surprising move after the Chengannur debacle, Chandy had been ‘kicked upstairs’ as the AICC in-charge of Andhra. But a success in bringing a heavyweight like Mani back to the UDF fold will be a feather in his cap. This will give him more currency in ensuring his picks are nominated for key organisational posts like that of the new KPCC chief and the UDF convenor.
(Get detailed and live results of each and every seat of the state Assemblies in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Telangana, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram to know which candidate/party is leading or trailing and to know who has won and who has lost and by what margin. Our one-of-its-kind Election Analytics Centre lets you put on the psephologist's hat. Know interesting facts and trivia about the elections. Elections = News18)
| Edited by: Ahona Sengupta
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