CM intervenes in NCP dispute over Pala seat

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Tuesday attempted to prevent the State unit of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) from hurtling towards a potentially open split

Mr. Vijayan held a closed-door meeting with NCP State president T.P. Peethambaran. Transport Minister A. K. Saseendran of the NCP was present. Mr. Peethambaran later told reporters that the talks were constructive and would continue.

The NCP was reportedly profoundly divided over whether it should handover the Pala Assembly seat to Jose K. Mani of the Kerala Congress(M).

The incumbent MLA, Mani. C. Kappan, of the NCP, had wrested the constituency from the KC(M) in a hard-fought byelection in 2019. He was reportedly adamant against giving up the seat to his erstwhile political foe.

However, Mr. Saseendran, who heads a powerful faction in the NCP, had reportedly argued for accommodating the KC(M) in the Left Democratic Front (LDF).

He reportedly felt that the LDF stood a better chance at winning the Assembly polls. The NCP could ill-afford to be seen as a destabilising factor in the LDF. Moreover, the United Democratic Front (UDF), with its arguably poor showing in local polls, was on the “decline”.

Sources close to Mr. Kappan said the MLA reportedly felt that a faction in the NCP was using the KC(M) as a pretext to undercut his possible chance of becoming a Minister were he to hold on to Pala seat and the LDF came to power again.

Moreover, party workers close to Mr. Kappan felt that the KC(M) had not brought rich dividends for the LDF, as claimed by Mr. Jose.

Mr. Kappan has reportedly petitioned NCP national president Sharad Pawar against the move to take Pala away from the NCP. Mr. Pawar was expected to arrive in Kerala on Saturday to parley with NCP and LDF leaders.

Mr. Jose was reportedly intense about contesting from Pala, a constituency held for decades by his late father and KC(M) founder K. M. Mani. He has made no open claim for the constituency except stating that “Pala” was an inalienable “feeling” for KC(M) workers.

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